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Ohio votes to enshrine abortion rights in state constitution

Ohio votes to enshrine abortion rights in state constitution

Voters in Ohio chose overwhelmingly to enshrine a right to reproductive freedom, including protections for the practice of abortion, into the state constitution on Tuesday.

It’s a rebuke of Republicans in the state, who rallied behind a particularly restrictive law banning abortions after six weeks into the mother’s pregnancy after the Supreme Court tossed out Roe vs Wade last year.

As of just after 9pm est, the measure was winning with more than 57 per cent of the vote; just under a quarter of the precincts were reporting.

“Tonight, Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms – and democracy won,” President Joe Biden declared shortly after the ballot measure’s fate was called by the networks.

“In Ohio, voters protected access to reproductive health in their state constitution. Ohioans and voters across the country rejected attempts by MAGA Republican elected officials to impose extreme abortion bans that put the health and lives of women in jeopardy, force women to travel hundreds of miles for care, and threaten to criminalize doctors and nurses for providing the health care that their patients need and that they are trained to provide,” he added. “This extreme and dangerous agenda is out-of-step with the vast majority of Americans.”

The victory was also immediately celebrated by the Women’s March, a women-led activist organisation that rose to significant national prominence during the Trump presidency to organise against conservatives on issues under the umbrella of reproductive rights.

“Ohioans knew this was their chance to fortify abortion rights in the state Constitution, and they were more than willing to turn out and fight for it. Not only will the passage of Issue 1 protect people seeking abortion services in Ohio, it will ensure that there is a right to birth control, fertility treatment, and miscarriage care. Republicans in Ohio have tried to restrict those freedoms all along – doing everything in their power to override the will of their constituents and keep the fate of abortion within their own control. But Issue 1’s passage proves that abortion can't lose when it’s put in front of the people,” said Women’s March executive director Rachel O’Leary Carmona.

“We have no doubt that the winning streak will continue in every state where abortion rights are up for a vote, and that the electorate’s rejection of radical anti-choice bans will carry into the 2024 election,” Ms Carmona added.

Abortion rights activists have seen reproductive freedom thrust into the very centre of many Americans’ attention following the Supreme Court’s decision tossing out federal protections for the practice of abortion last year. That has been a silver lining for Democrats stemming from the otherwise bleak outcome of the court case, which ended decades of settled precedent and threw states across the country into political chaos.

Progressives in Ohio won another victory on Tuesday evening with the legalisation of marijuana for recreational use via ballot initiave; that measure was also winning handily when it was called just before 9.30pm est.

Opponents of abortion rights had cautioned political observers to not take Tuesday’s results as any kind of bellwhether on the issue’s popularity nationally, a possible sign early in the day that they did not expect to win. In statements after their defeat, conservative groups vowed to keep fighting.

“The Pro-Life Movement is in a marathon, not a sprint. Making a case for LIFE on the human rights issue of our day – abortion – will not be finished in a single election cycle,” said president Kristan Hawkins.

Reverend Dean Nelson of Human Coalition Action added: “It took 50 years to undo Roe v. Wade, so pro-lifers are used to temporary setbacks on the long road to ending abortion. We will not rest in our work to save as many lives as possible and shield women from the horrors of the abortion industry.”