A significant win for pro-choice activists happened on Tuesday when Ohio voters approved the inclusion of abortion rights in the state’s constitution.
Ohio was the first state headed by Republicans to propose amending its constitution to explicitly guarantee the right to an abortion, therefore its initiative, known as Issue 1, was largely seen as the hardest battle yet for proponents of the right.
Proponents of abortion rights secured a ballot issue in Ohio, while the Democratic governor of Kentucky, managed to retain his position by running a campaign focused on reproductive rights and portraying his opponent as an extremist. After running on a platform of defending abortion rights, a Democrat was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Abortion rights organizations cautioned that rejecting the Ohio amendment would open the door for a strict ban to go into place, while anti-abortion forces argued that it was too drastic. The six-week limit that the Republican-controlled legislature had previously established is nullified by Tuesday’s vote. A court challenge had put the law on hold.
The proposed amendment will add provisions for access to abortion to the state constitution. It will create “an individual right to one’s own reproductive medical treatment,” encompassing care for miscarriages, abortions, and contraception. In general, viability is defined as roughly 23 weeks of pregnancy, and it expressly forbids the state from “directly or indirectly burdening, penalizing, or prohibiting abortion” before that point.
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The amendment does permit the state to outlaw abortions beyond the point of viability, with the exception of situations in which the patient’s physician deems the treatment necessary to preserve the patient’s life or health.