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Close vote enshrines abortion in state constitution in Ohio

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J-P Mauro - published on 11/08/23

The passage of Issue 1 will guarantee a "right to abortion," as well as other decisions about pregnancy, but "fetal viability" restrictions on the table.

After a close vote, Ohio has passed Issue 1, a ballot measure that enshrined abortion “rights” into the state constitution. The final split was 56.62% in favor, with 43.38% opposed, easily passing the measure. In the same vote, the people of Ohio also chose to legalize adult use of cannabis, also called marijuana.

The amendment, titled “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety,” will henceforth allow unrestricted access to abortion in the state, as well as so-called protections to self-determination in all aspects of reproductive health. 

There are, however, provisions that allow the state to restrict abortion after “fetal viability,” unless the life of the mother is endangered. Ohio defined “fetal viability” as the point in which there is a likely chance of survival outside of the womb. This is determined by a physician on a case-by-case basis, who is legally permitted to prescribe abortion at any point of the pregnancy to protect the life or health of the mother. 

Bishop Edward C. Malesic of the Diocese of Cleveland lamented the passage of Issue 1. He called November 7 a “very sad, disheartening day” and called on the faithful to continue to promote a culture that respects life at every stage. The bishop wrote: 

“We must recommit ourselves to supporting pregnant women in need through our ministries that serve them – whether they face challenging pregnancies or find it extremely difficult to care for their children after birth. We must continue our work to care for these vulnerable women by providing physical, emotional and spiritual support through places like Zelie’s Home, the Christ Child Society and the many programs offered by Catholic Charities.”

Persist in the mission

He went on to invite everyone to pray with him and persist in the mission “to protect every life.” 

The Catholic Bishops of Ohio released a joint statement that similarly called the passage of Issue 1 “a tragic day for women, children, and families in Ohio.” The Ohio bishops wrote: 

“We mourn that the dignity of human life remains concealed by the duplicity of a culture of death. Though this is a day of sorrow, we are never without hope. St. Paul tells us that it is in hope that we were saved and, ‘if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.’”

The joint statement went on to reiterate the Catholic Church’s pro-life stance and state their determination to continue to support pro-life measures in government. They wrote that they will continue to “defend the most vulnerable, strengthen the child-parent relationship, and support women in need.”

See the full comments from the bishops at the Diocese of Cleveland website. 

AbortionPro-lifeUnited States
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