On Aug. 8, 3.1 million people in Ohio voted on Ohio Issue 1 on their ballots, with 57% of them voting “no” to support the pro-abortion rights position on women’s access to legal abortion. This past Tuesday, Nov. 7, 3.9 million people in Ohio voted on Ohio Issue 1 on their ballots with 57% of them voting “yes” to support the pro-abortion rights position on women’s access to abortion. Confused? Well, that’s the point, as the Republican legislature tried to trick the public with the August election.

But the people of Ohio, of both parties, saw through the ruse and came out strongly, twice, to say that they want abortion to remain safe and legal.

Election 2023 Abortion

Supporters of Issue 1 cheer at a watch party on Tuesday, in Columbus, Ohio. Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

The to-and-fro began after the U.S. Supreme Court flipped the principles of stare decisis and precedent on their heads, along with pledges several justices made to senators during the confirmation process to respect settled law, and threw out Roe v. Wade along with almost 50 years of nationwide legal abortion.

That sent the matter back to the states, which is what many opponents of Roe – including Justice Samuel Alito and his four colleagues – claimed is all they wanted. That was a lie, as those anti-abortion rights forces really just wanted to ban abortion.

So, back it went to the states. Ohio’s Republican legislature passed very tough restrictions, so the public moved to enshrine abortion rights in Ohio’s state constitution, called the Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety. It was set for a November ballot, with a “yes” vote supporting the measure. But then the GOP legislature tried a fast one, proposing to change the procedures on amending the constitution from a majority vote of the citizens to a 60% threshold.

That is what the August vote was about. And why the 57% pro-abortion rights majority said “no.” And then this week the 57% pro-abortion rights majority said “yes.” If the 60% level was needed for adoption, as the GOP plotted, the constitutional amendment would have failed.


While Ohio’s double vote was unique, six other states have had statewide ballot measures on abortion, and in all six, either the pro-abortion rights position prevailed, as in Vermont (77%-23%), California (67%-33%) and Michigan (57%-43%) or the anti-abortion rights position was rejected, as in Kansas (59%-41%), Kentucky (52%-48%) and Montana (53%-47%). Democratic-leaning or Republican-leaning, urban or rural, liberal or conservative, coastal or Midwestern, it didn’t matter – Americans want women to have access to legal abortion.

Donald Trump, who nominated the three justices who trashed Roe, said when the decision came down that the court’s action would be bad for Republicans. He is a bad man and was a very bad president, but he is an astute observer of politics, and he was correct.

If Republicans want to stop losing on abortion, then they should start respecting the wishes of the public and stop trying to interfere with this important aspect of women’s health care. Eight times Americans have voted on abortion, and eight times they have answered.

For decades, Republicans curried favor by promising to undermine and ban abortion, but those were phony pledges as long as Roe stood. Now, without Roe, when the right to abortion is real, it’s no longer a winning issue and is a loser everywhere it’s been put to a vote.

How many more defeats must the anti-abortion rights Republicans suffer before they understand that their old slogans don’t sell any longer?

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