Abortion At The Center Of Ohio’s August Election

How a ballot question will determine the fate of abortion in the Midwestern state

Written by David Zimmermann

What’s happening: Ohio voters will decide in today’s special election whether to make it harder to amend the state constitution, a ballot measure that will have significant implications for abortion come November. The measure (Issue 1) would raise the threshold for amending the constitution from needing 50 percent of the vote to 60 percent.

Why it matters: Democrats across the U.S. are trying to enshrine abortion rights into state constitutions, motivated by surveys indicating that a majority of Americans don't fully support abortion bans. Raising the threshold to change the state constitution would shield the foundational document from liberal proposals and special interest groups.

  • Zoom in: Many Ohio Democrats are against Issue 1 because it would make it harder to pass their November ballot measure to add the right to an abortion in the state constitution, prohibiting abortions only after “fetal viability,” a term that has no definitive deadline in pregnancy.

  • Zoom out: Democrats in California, Michigan, and Vermont have already passed similar amendments, while efforts in Missouri, Maryland, and New York are underway.

Looking ahead: Ohio is set to become a crucial test for other swing states before the 2024 election. If the Buckeye State — which has a six-week abortion ban that is currently paused — approves the amendment, liberal activists could try to secure unlimited abortion access next year in states like Florida and Arizona.

  • Take note: Abortion is still a highly animating issue. Early voting saw about 580,000 Ohioans vote by mail or in person on Issue 1 since June 23. The early turnout for this special election was higher than the 2022 primaries for the governor and U.S. Senate races last May.