The pro-life movement’s Nov. 7 loss of the Issue 1 vote in Ohio was not much of a surprise to those who had been following the polling, advertising, and media coverage carefully.
In fact, the loss had been, practically speaking, realized months earlier in August when a ballot initiative that would have raised the voter approval threshold for new constitutional amendments to the state constitution to 60%, from 50% +1, failed.
Widely regarded as a stalking horse for abortion, the August vote was backed by abortion groups, and their money, from across the nation. The defeat was seen as a win for abortion advocates, and a harbinger of worse things to come.
Money from the abortion industry and affiliated groups poured into Ohio — an estimated $35 million — and this past Tuesday, things did get worse. Much worse.
Despite warnings from Gov. Mike DeWine that Issue 1 was “too extreme for Ohio” and not reflective of “Ohio values,” voters passed the measure by a significant margin, 56.6% to 43.4%, ushering in a parade of horribles, from taxpayer funding of abortion to removal of the requirement of parental involvement in a minor girl’s abortion, to expansion of elective abortion procedures for the entire duration of pregnancy. (The initiative prohibits abortion limits before viability and, after viability, allows abortion providers to circumvent restrictions under vaguely defined “health” protections.)
Ohio’s voters have now given carte blanche to dangerous bad actors, from human sex traffickers to substandard abortion providers. With no parent or guardian required to be even notified (much less give consent) if a minor is having an abortion, those who exploit young girls and women will have the freedom to move their victims around — and profit from them — as they please. With health and safety standards erased, Ohio’s abortion clinics will now be just as dangerous for women as they are for unborn babies.
In an effort to shine a light on gruesome second and third trimester abortions, Ann McElhinney and Phelim MacAleer, Irish investigative journalists (now residing in Los Angeles) and co-authors of the book Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer, brought their exhibit of evidence photos from the trial of the now-notorious Philadelphia abortion provider to Columbus, Ohio, last month. The pair had hoped their exhibit, using photos of evidence admitted at the criminal trial, would help Ohio voters better understand the dramatic impact that removing health and safety regulations from abortion clinics, as well as expanding elective abortion until birth, could have.
“The Ohio media basically refused to cover it,” McAleer told the organization CatholicVote. “This is a breaking news story in their district. The ads are on TV and this is a photographic exhibition on a national news story relevant to the Ohio area. The local media just will not cover it, and the reason they will not cover it is because they can’t handle the truth … the last thing they want is the truth interfering with their political plans.”
There is an old adage, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,” a hat tip to Ohio’s virtually uninterrupted streak of accurately forecasting presidential winners. In fact, for five decades it was widely assumed a candidate could not win the presidency unless he or she won Ohio — until President Joe Biden did it in 2020.
Ohio’s long streak of wins had been broken.
Given the damage unfettered abortion on demand will do to Ohio and its people, we can only hope a new streak — one proving Ohio to be an out-of-touch-with-the-average-American outlier — will prevail.
Mary FioRito is an attorney and the Cardinal Francis George Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. She writes from Chicago.