Ohio approves inclusion of abortion rights to state constitution

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Pro-choice campaigners in the state happy with the decision. Credit: Reuters

A significant win for pro-choice activists in the state occurred on Tuesday when Ohio voters approved the inclusion of abortion rights in the state constitution.

CBS News, the US partner of the BBC, predicted that the amendment would win handily.

In the state that leans conservative, nearly 57% of voters supported the proposal.

Its success is probably going to give Democrats more optimism that abortion rights will continue to be a popular issue in front of the 2024 elections.

Additionally, it maintains the unbroken streak of ballot initiatives aimed at defending abortion rights since the Supreme Court’s revocation of the countrywide right to the procedure last year. This measure is the seventh of its kind to pass.

However, because Ohio was the first state led by Republicans to consider amending its constitution to explicitly guarantee the right, its measure, known as Issue 1, was widely regarded as the hardest battle yet for proponents of abortion rights.

The amendment will change the state’s constitution to include protections for abortion access. It will establish “an individual right to one’s own reproductive medical treatment”, including on abortion, contraception and miscarriage care. It will take effect on 7 December, 30 days after the election.

The amendment’s proponents alerted voters to the possibility of new, more stringent legislation, such as a complete ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Currently, Ohio allows abortions up until 22 weeks of pregnancy.

On the other hand, opponents of the proposal claimed that it would legalize late-term abortions, which are currently prohibited.

As votes were still being counted into the early hours, there were emotional celebrations from pro-choice supporters as US media projected the constitutional amendment would pass.

“This is one of the greatest moments of my life, working so hard with my team beside me to achieve reproductive rights and freedoms in Ohio,” Kate Gillie told the BBC at one watch party.

“We’ve got two little girls and this is about their future and their reproductive rights,” another person at the party, Frank Tedeschi, said.

One of the leading groups that opposed the amendment, Protect Women Ohio, has reportedly raised almost $10m (£8.1m) since September.

In a statement, the group said: “Our hearts are broken tonight not because we lost an election, but because Ohio families, women and children will bear the brunt of this vote.”

“We stand ready during this unthinkable time to advocate for women and the unborn,” it added.

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