POLITICS, ABORTION

GOP Power Grab in Ohio Rooted in Fight Over Abortion Rights

Suppressing citizen voices part of a national strategy

Vanessa Gallman
2 min readAug 3, 2023

--

Photo by Theresa Thompson on Flickr

Ohio voters will go to the polls Aug. 8 to decide Issue 1 — if the state should raise approval of ballot measures from 50 percent to 60 percent of the vote, making it harder to amend the state constitution.

Why hold a vote in the summer — contrary even to a law the legislature passed just last year — to overturn an amendment process used since 1912?

It’s because citizens there have garnered enough signatures for a November ballot measure to keep abortion legal up to 22 weeks. An Associated Press poll showed 59 percent of Ohio voters believed abortion should generally be legal. Last year, Kansas and Michigan voters preserved abortion access with just under 60 percent voter approval.

Hence, the 60 percent threshold proposed by Ohio’s GOP-dominated legislature.

The measure would also require signatures from all 88 counties instead of half of them. It also would remove the 10-day period to fix signature errors.

Restricting ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments has recently become a priority in GOP controlled states such as Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Florida and Missouri, according to Democracy Docket, which monitors voting issues. Lawmakers object to citizens using the process to promote issues such as election reform, abortion rights, Medicaid expansion and marijuana legalization..

Opponents against Ohio’s Issue 1 see it as a strategy to first impose a six-week abortion ban. Signed In 2019, the ban took effect after the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion rights last year. But a state court put the law on hold in September.

Currently, opponents are outspending proponents. The state is receiving 18,000 early ballots a day; early voting has already surpassed turnout in the 2022 primary.

Supporters of the measure say the changes are necessary to keep out-of-state special interests from pushing policies on Ohioans. Yet a key funder of the effort is Chicago-area billionaire Richard Uihlein, founder of the shipping company Uline, who recently gave the Save Our Constitution

--

--

Vanessa Gallman

Experienced journalist, educator and retired opinion-page editor with occasional musings