The number of signatures submitted far exceeded the approximately 400,000 required for an initiative to vote. County councils have until July 20 to consider signatures for the secretary of state, who then has until July 25 to make the final call on qualifying the initiative for the November vote.
Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, a nonpartisan coalition of abortion-rights groups, unveiled the language of the vote earlier this year, kicking off a four-month race to collect signatures and campaign across the state. Proponents, including state Democrats, Ohio’s ACLU and Ohio’s Planned Parenthood Advocates, plan to spend up to $35 million on the effort through November.
Opponents have opposed the measure arguing that it would allow for gender-affirming care without parental consent, even though that provision is not in the language of the initiative.
« The ACLU’s attempts to hijack Ohio’s constitution to further its own radical agenda would be pathetic if it weren’t so dangerous, » said Amy Natoce, a spokeswoman for Protect Women Ohio, a coalition of anti-abortion rights groups. against the measure. declaration.
Conservatives have reason to be concerned. Nearly a year ago, ruby-red Kansas became the first state in the nation to put the question of abortion rights directly to voters after the Supreme Court overturned roe deer. Voters overwhelmingly rejected that campaign measure, which would have removed protections for abortion rights from the Kansas Constitution and given the legislature the right to further limit or ban abortions.
Kansas has been a warning sign for anti-abortion rights advocates, one that some abortion advocates have hailed as a fluke. But that claim was debunked after pro-abortion rights lawsuits prevailed in states across the country in midterm last year and Wisconsin earlier this year, leading to an ideological reversal of the Court. State Supreme. Nationwide, abortion-rights advocates remain more motivated by the issue than opponents, according to a recent Gallup poll.
For Democrats, the prospect of an abortion-focused off-year campaign could hardly come at a better time. Ohio will host a high-stakes Senate battle in 2024, with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown up for re-election. GOP challengers for that seat include state Senator Matt Dolan and businessman Bernie Moreno. Secretary of State Frank LaRose—who has been in the spotlight as his office handles election measures—is take a ride Also. In the House, Republicans aim to overturn the seats held by Democratic Representatives Greg Landsman, Marcy Kaptur and Emilia Sykes.
« Ohio is ground zero for the abortion rights fight in this country, and nowhere is that clearer than the race for the US Senate, » said Allison Russo, House Minority Leader of the democratic state. « Next year, we must reject whatever out-of-this-world candidate makes it through these messy Republican primaries. »
But messages about abortion haven’t always been front and center for Ohio Democrats. Former Representative Tim Ryan, who ran unsuccessfully for Senate last year, emphasized mostly the economy, jobs and crime.
Irene Lin, an Ohio-based Democratic strategist who has helped collect signatures for the abortion rights campaign, said she thought stories like that of a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who traveled to Indiana to get an abortion would have moved the needle for Democrats like Nan Whaley, who ran for governor last year and made abortion one of her top issues. But it didn’t happen. Whaley lost by 25 points.
« There’s this perception that abortion has helped us through midterms, and I agree that it has in some states, » Lin said. “If you’re in a state where there are a lot of college-educated suburban women, yes, it can help. If you’re not one of those states, … we Democrats can’t count on it being as useful as we’d like it to be.
Republicans are already moving to hamper the abortion measure’s chances of success, putting a proposition known as Number 1 on an August special ballot to make it more difficult for constitutional amendments to pass. If approved, the threshold for approval would go from a simple majority to 60 percent.
Had this 60% threshold been in effect in other states last year, the string of electoral victories on abortion rights would not necessarily have succeeded. Ohio’s effort is very similar to Michigan’s, which in November approved a campaign initiative to proactively codify abortion rights into the constitution there. That measure received about 57 percent of the vote.
And that was in Michigan, a swing state. The political environment in Republican-leaning Ohio is more conservative-friendly.
« Ohio has had quite a Republican lean over the past decade, » said Doug Preisse, a veteran Republican strategist in the state, that abortion is « less harmful to Republicans. »