(The Washington Stand) Abortion activists claimed a pivotal victory in a swing state Tuesday night, as Ohio voters rejected a measure making it more difficult to add a constitutional “right” to abortion to the state constitution.
With nearly all votes reported, 57% of Ohioans voted against Issue 1 in the August special election, according to unofficial results reported by the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. The issue would have required 60% of state voters to approve a proposed constitutional amendment in the initiative and referendum process, up from a simple majority adopted during the Progressive Era in 1912. It would also mandate that petitions for future amendments receive the signatures of at least 5% of voters who cast a ballot in the last gubernatorial election in all of Ohio’s 88 counties, rather than in half of those counties under present law.
Such arcane details of constitutional governance rarely attract such controversy, or money, but in Ohio the real issue was abortion. A coalition of abortionists and their lobbyists has placed a measure on the November ballot that would add a “right” to abortion and minors’ gender transitions to the state constitution. Its supporters say it would restore the status that long held under Roe v. Wade, but opponents say it would effectively allow minors to obtain an abortion up to the moment of birth and confer a right for children to have transgender surgeries without parental consent or notification. That measure states, “Every individual” — rather than every adult — “has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive choices, including but not limited to … abortion.” (Emphasis added.) If adopted, it would bring about the “complete Californication of Ohio,” Aaron Baer of the Columbus-based Center for Christian Virtue told “Washington Watch” on the eve of the election.
“Sadly, attacks on state constitutions are now the national playbook of the extreme pro-abortion Left,” said Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America in a statement emailed to The Washington Stand. The group called the electoral defeat “a sad day for Ohio and a warning for pro-life states across the nation.”
“Millions of dollars and liberal dark money flooded Ohio to ensure they have a path to buy their extreme policies in a pro-life state,” said SBA. “During this crucial election, progressives funneled in millions from outside groups to mislead the people of Ohio.”
The official group opposing Issue 1 had a fundraising advantage of three-to-one and outspent pro-life forces 10-to-1. The pro-life Protect Our Constitution raised $4.9 million through July 19, compared to $14.8 million for the “No” campaign’s One Person One Vote. Protect the Constitution spent $1.6 million, compared to $10.4 million, according to an analysis from the Dayton Daily News. “A sizable chunk of the campaign’s money came from progressive dark money groups.
Most notably, the campaign received $2.5 million from the D.C. based Sixteen Thirty Fund, a liberal ‘dark money’ organization” administered by Arabella Advisors, as well as the Tides Foundation and American Advocacy Action Fund, Inc., the newspaper reported. Other donors include the National Education Association, the Ohio Education Association, and the ACLU’s national and state chapters. Some 84% of the total funds came from outside the state, The two major sectors of donations to One Person One Vote were Washington, D.C., and California. Outside PACs also spent millions on the outcome, for and against.
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SBA List noted that, while “a broad coalition of passionate pro-life Ohioans came together to fight parental rights opponents and try to take victory from the jaws of defeat,” others “tragically” sat out the election “while outsider liberal groups poured millions into Ohio.”
“The silence of the establishment and business community in Ohio left a vacuum too large to overcome,” the group said.
Tweet This: Pro-life Ohioans came out to fight parental rights opponents-Others sat out the election as outside liberal groups poured millions into Ohio
The issue attracted support from controversial, socially liberal figures nationwide, including the The Lincoln Project, a collection of NeverTrump Republicans who called Tuesday’s vote “a major win for democracy!” Similarly, Democratic lawyer Marc Elias — who helped the Democratic Party establish the “Russia collusion” hoax in 2016 and attempted to ban elected Republican congressmen from running for office by invoking Section 3 of the 14th Amendment in 2022 — worked to defeat Issue 1.
Similarly, actor Jim Caviezel of “The Passion of the Christ” and “Sound of Freedom” prayed the rosary in a public rally this weekend supporting the measure, joined by former Planned Parenthood manager Abby Johnson. Their efforts helped drive an unusually large turnout for a special election, but the turnout fell short.
“I’m grateful that nearly 1.3 million Ohioans stood with us in this fight,” said Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), who supported Issue 1, on Tuesday night. “Unfortunately, we were dramatically outspent by dark money billionaires from California to New York. Ohioans will see the devastating impact of this vote soon enough.”
“There’s an assault on our constitution,” said LaRose said Issue 1 was “100% about keeping a radical, pro-abortion amendment out of our constitution.”
A similarly expansive measure, Proposition 3, has already passed neighboring Michigan and other states, fueled by a wave of abortion-industry cash. As a result, “voters, in places such as Kansas, are getting more than they bargained for,” said Students for Life Action.
“Make no mistake, ballot referendums promise ‘women’s choice,’ but are a tool often used by well-funded activists trying to force radical changes through paid-for campaigns,” said Students for Life Action’s Kristan Hawkins in a statement sent to TWS. “The fate of the preborn must not go to the highest bidder.”
Tweet This: Ballot referendums promise ‘women’s choice’ but are a tool often used by well-funded activists 2force radical change via paid-for campaigns
Smaller, more rural counties voted in favor of the measure by as much as an 80% margin, but the state’s large population centers (Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati) voted against the resolution by similarly lopsided majorities.
Proponents tried to highlight their opponents’ hypocrisy, pointing out that Ohio’s Democratic Party provides in its bylaws that “The constitution may be amended by 60% of all delegates to any convention.” President of the State Senate Matt Huffman (R-Lima) noted that the Columbus Dispatch favored raising the threshold from a bare majority to at least 55% in 2017. State Senator Vernon Sykes (D-Akron), who co-chaired the committee that proposed the 55% floor, said Issue 1 “shreds our constitution.”
Article V makes amending the U.S. Constitution a convoluted process requiring broad consensus by the virtually every sector of the nation. Proposed constitutional amendments must first receive either a two-thirds vote of the House of Representatives and the Senate, or from a constitutional convention called by two-thirds of the states. After receiving that supermajority, the proposed amendment must be ratified by three-quarters of all states (38 of 50). One of the Founding Fathers, James Wilson, wanted to require unanimous ratification by all the states. But Alexander Hamilton explained the process in Federalist No. 85 required. While it will be “difficult … to unite two-thirds or three-fourths of the State legislatures in amendments which may affect local interests” alone, legislators would have no trouble amassing a supermajority in favor of amendments benefiting “the general liberty or security of the people.”
With Issue 1 behind them, abortion looms on the horizon in November, with efforts to legalize marijuana and institute union-backed wage mandates on small businesses soon to follow. “The fight is not over,” vowed Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Columbus).
“It is now time to turn our attention to November,” said Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill). “As a 100% pro-life conservative, we must defeat Issue 1 on November 7 to stop abortion from being a part of our state’s constitution.”
With Tuesday’s victory as a template, the abortion industry plans to press forward, followed by similar liberal special interest groups, warned SBA Pro-life America. “Everyone must take this threat seriously and recognize progressives will win if their opponents are scared into submission by the pro-abortion Left,” the group told TWS. “So long as the Republicans and their supporters take the ostrich strategy and bury their heads in the sand, they will lose again and again.”
Editor's note: Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand. This article was published by The Washington Stand and is reprinted with permission.