CV NEWS FEED // On November 7, Ohioans passed a constitutional amendment known as Issue 1, adding the right to abortion up to nine months of pregnancy to Ohio’s constitution.
Now that the amendment has passed, the following language will be added to the Ohio state constitution:
A. Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on: contraception; fertility treatment; continuing one’s own pregnancy; miscarriage care; and abortion.
B. The State shall not, directly or indirectly, burden, penalize, prohibit, interfere with, or discriminate against either:
1. An individual’s voluntary exercise of this right or
2. A person or entity that assists an individual exercising this right, unless the State demonstrates that it is using the least restrictive means to advance the individual’s health in accordance with widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care.
The amendment says that “abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability. But in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
The amendment does not specify when fetal viability occurs, nor does it specifically define “life or health” of the mother, and leaves these decisions to doctors to determine on “a case-by-case basis.”
Currently, Ohio law prohibits abortion after 22 weeks gestation.
Approximately 91% of the votes on Issue 1 are in at the time of publication. Fifty-five percent of voters voted YES on Issue 1 (approximately 1,432,585 Ohioans). Forty-four percent of voters voted NO on Issue 1 (approximately 1,142,046 Ohioans). Issue 1 needed a simple majority of 50% + 1 to pass.
In a special election in August, Ohioans voted against a measure that would have raised the threshold needed to pass a constitutional amendment to 60%, instead of the current 50% + 1.
Ohio’s Republican governor, Mike DeWine, opposed Issue 1. “Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, this amendment is just radical,” he said. “It does not reflect the values of the people of Ohio.”
The Ohio Catholic Conference also strongly opposed Issue 1, saying it “opens the door to remove important health and safety measures that protect women, threatens parental consent and notification of any minor seeking an abortion, and allows for abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.”
In October, Bishop Earl Fernandes of Columbus, OH expressed concern that the vague language of the ballot could be extended to allow gender transition surgeries for minors.
“Fernandes noted that the vague wording of ‘individual’ does not specify age or gender and the term ‘reproductive choices’ is not limited to abortion-related decisions,” Catholic News Agency reported. “Because of this, he believes Issue 1 could be construed to also remove any limits on gender selection, harvesting of body parts, chemical castration, transgender surgeries, and gender reassignment on minors.”
Archbishop of Cincinnati, Most Reverend Dennis Schnurr, published a pastoral letter shortly after Issue 1 passed.
Calling Issue 1’s passing “deeply disturbing,” he wrote, “The people of Ohio missed on this important opportunity to demonstrate that the health and safety of women, the fundamental rights of parents, and the lives of preborn children deserve protection. Despite this outcome, we are grateful for all of you who prayed, educated yourselves and others, and voted NO on this horrific amendment.”
“The passage of Issue 1 shows that there remains a desperate need for conversion of hearts and minds to a culture of life in our country, one that respects the inherent dignity and sacredness of every human being from conception to natural death,” Schnurr continued. “This conversion will come about only through earnest prayer and the witness of our compassionate care for the most vulnerable among us.”
Schnurr also thanked the local pregnancy centers, pro-life ministries, St. Vincent de Paul conferences, Catholic Charities, and Catholic healthcare systems that support life. “I urge everyone in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati to redouble support for these Catholic ministries that provide material resources and personal accompaniment to women, children and families so that abortion, legal or not, ceases to be even a consideration,” he wrote.
“The passage of Issue 1 in Ohio is part of what appears to be a coordinated state-by-state attack on life,” he added. “Please pray for our sisters and brothers in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, and South Dakota who likely will face proposals similar to Issue 1 on their respective state ballots in 2024. We must not become disheartened by setbacks.”
Schnurr concluded, “As Catholics, we are called to trust always in God’s providence and be courageous in our defense of the health and safety of women, the inviolability of the family, and the inestimable value of each human life. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, graciously help us build a culture of life and a civilization of love to the praise and glory of God, the Creator of all.”
An initiated statute, Issue 2, also passed, legalizing recreational marijuana in Ohio. Adults over 21 can grow marijuana at home, and buy and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. At the time of publication, 89% of votes are in, 55% of voters voted yes on Issue 2. Because it is not a constitutional amendment, however, the state legislature could later repeal or amend Issue 2.
Nearly 571,500 Ohioans voted early in Ohio for the November 7 General Election, and nearly 292,9000 absentee ballots were returned. A total of almost 864,300 Ohioans cast their ballot before November 7.