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FACTS ON NOVEMBER'S ISSUE 1

Reproductive health is on the ballot this year in Ohio, and we want to help voters make a decision informed by their values and the facts, not by political spin.
 

We know voters have questions– good ones!– so we put together answers to the most common questions we've been hearing. We've added other resources, too, like the recordings for the webinar we did asking medical and legal experts to break down some of the misinformation about Issue 1, as well as to the forum held 10-11-23 with representative of both the "Yes" and "No" side.

To plan your vote and get info on what you need to vote in this election– the required ID, how to vote by mail, key dates, and much more–go here.

 

In this section you'll find:

ISSUE 1 FAQs

Issue 1 FAQ

ISSUE 1 BASICS

WHAT IS ISSUE 1 ABOUT?

  • Issue 1 relates to reproductive health care. Also known as “The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety”, it would amend the Ohio Constitution, if passed by voters in November. 


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO VOTE YES ON ISSUE 1?

  • A “yes” vote supports amending the Ohio Constitution to restore the right to an abortion, as well as other reproductive health care such as fertility or miscarriage treatment : 

    • establish a state constitutional right to "make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,"including decisions about abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and continuing pregnancy; 

    • prohibit the state of Ohio from interfering with this constitutional right, except when the state demonstrates "that it is using the least restrictive means to advance the individual's health in accordance with widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care;" 

    • allow the state to restrict abortion after fetal viability, defined as "the point in a pregnancy when, in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient's treating physician, the fetus has a significant likelihood of survival outside the uterus with reasonable measures;" and 

    • prohibit the state of Ohio from banning abortion when, in the professional judgment of a physician, an abortion "is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health." 


WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO VOTE NO ON ISSUE 1? 

  • A "no" vote opposes amending the Ohio Constitution to establish the constitutional right to "make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions." This would allow the state to continue to create legislation relating to abortion and other reproductive health actions.


WHAT HAPPENS IF ISSUE 1 PASSES? 

  • Abortion would go back to being legal up until viability of the fetus -- as it had been for nearly half a century since Roe v. Wade.  Access to miscarriage care, to contraception, and to fertility treatments, as well as the right to remain pregnant, would also be protected under this amendment. Under this amendment, the state would be allowed to restrict abortion beyond viability, with exceptions made when a physician deems abortion necessary for the life or health of the pregnant patient.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF ISSUE 1 DOES NOT PASS?

  • Laws around abortion and other reproductive health care would continue to be made by state government. 

  • Right now, Ohio has a ban on abortion after the 6th week of pregnancy in place, but this ban has been temporarily blocked by a judge. The judgment blocking the ban has been challenged by the Ohio Attorney General on behalf of the state of Ohio, and is under review with the Ohio Supreme Court. If the Court rules in the state’s favor, the 6 week abortion ban will resume, making abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy illegal. This includes pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. 


WHO IS LEADING THE CAMPAIGN TO PASS ISSUE 1? 

  • An organization named OURR – Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights– is heading Issue 1. According to their website, this is a coalition of statewide organizations that includes ACLU of Ohio, Abortion Fund of Ohio, Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Ohio Women’s Alliance, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Preterm-Cleveland, Pro-Choice Ohio, and URGE. 


WHO IS LEADING THE CAMPAIGN OPPOSING ISSUE 1? 

  • An organization named Protect Women Ohio is heading the opposition against Issue 1. According to their website, this is a coalition of people and organizations; no names are identified. 


WHO ARE SOME SUPPORTERS OF ISSUE 1? 

  • American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Ohio Section

  • National Association of Social Workers 

  • Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine


WHO ARE SOME OPPONENTS OF ISSUE 1?

  • Center for Christian Virtue 

  • Ohio Catholic Conference 

  • Ohio Right to Life 

ABORTION IN OHIO 

WHAT IS THE CURRENT LEGAL STATUS OF ABORTION IN OHIO? 

  • On June 24, 2022, immediately after the Dobbs ruling, a federal judge lifted an injunction that had been placed on a law that made abortion after 6 weeks illegal in Ohio, including for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. That law had originally been passed in 2019 but blocked in court because it was unconstitutional according to Roe v. Wade; after Dobbs, the law was no longer unconstitutional. 

  • On September 14, 2022, a different judge blocked the 6 week ban, restoring abortion rights to Ohioans temporarily. But abortion access is not settled law in Ohio- Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, representing the state, has challenged this ruling. The Ohio Supreme Court heard procedural arguments in September, and could issue their ruling at any time. If the Court rules in favor of the state, who brought the suit, abortion will again be banned after 6 weeks. 


WOULD THE AMENDMENT AFFECT ANYTHING OTHER THAN ABORTION?

  • Yes. 

  • In addition to guaranteeing the right to abortion, the amendment would also protect the right to other reproductive health actions such as access to contraception, fertility treatment, and miscarriage care, as well as the right to continue a pregnancy. 
     

ISSUE 1: FACTS vs. MISINFORMATION 

CAN A PREGNANCY BE TERMINATED AT ANY TIME DURING A PREGNANCY? 

  • The amendment maintains the standard set by the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which prohibits abortion after viability (which most doctors say is around 24 weeks), except in cases when the patient's life or physical health would be endangered by maintaining the pregnancy. In those instances, determined by the patient’s physician, abortion would be a protected option.

  • Historically, abortion after viability is very, very rare, with 93.1% of abortions happening before 13 weeks gestation in 2020, and less than 1% over 21 weeks gestation. (CDC). Typically, abortion during this period only happen when there are severe fetal anomalies and/or the patient’s life or physical health is in danger. 


HOW WOULD THIS AMENDMENT AFFECT PARENTAL RIGHTS? 

  • It wouldn’t. There is nothing in the amendment that changes Ohio laws around parental consent. 

  • Ohio law requires minors under the age of 18 to get consent from at least one parent when seeking an abortion. Minors who believe they are unable to tell a parent must get a court order from a judge through a process called judicial bypass. There is nothing in the amendment that would change this. 

 

HOW WOULD THIS AMENDMENT AFFECT GENDER-AFFIRMING CARE? 

  • It doesn’t. There is nothing in the amendment that has anything to do with gender-affirming care.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

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We invited experts in public health and constitutional law to get real answers about some of these questions.


FACTS FIRST: COUNTERING MISINFORMATION ABOUT ISSUE 1
Moderated by Jen Miller, the League's Executive Director, experts Maria Gallo, PhD, and Jonathan Entin, JD, helped us break down some of the most common areas of misinformation around Issue 1.


Dr. Maria Gallo is a sexual and reproductive health epidemiologist, professor of epidemiology, and associate dean of research at the OSU College of Public Health.
 

Jonathan Entin is a professor of constitutional law, civil rights, and public policy, and is the David L. Brennan Professor Emeritus of Law at Case Western University's School of Law.

TRUTH OR SCARE: ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT ISSUE 1

For this event, we asked Sharona Hoffman, our expert, 7 true/false questions to help clear up some of the confusion about Issue 1. After answering each question has a true or false answer, we talk about why.

 

Sharona Hoffman is the Edgar A. Hahn Professor of Law, a professor of bioethics, and Co-Director of Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University. She has been a visiting scholar at NIH and the CDC and clerked for a US circuit court judge.

Truth or Scare is moderated by Elisabeth Warner, the League's Communication Coordinator.

EXPERTS REACT: TO THE ADS IN ISSUE 1

We invited experts to react to a few of the ads in the Issue 1 campaign.

 

Our experts were

Dr. Maria Gallo is a sexual and reproductive health epidemiologist, professor of epidemiology, and associate dean of research at the OSU College of Public Health.
 

Jonathan Entin is a professor of constitutional law, civil rights, and public policy, and is the David L. Brennan Professor Emeritus of Law at Case Western University's School of Law.

Dr. Brianna Mack, Assistant Professor of Politics and Government, teaching Media and Politics, Power and American Politics, and Voting and Elections in the US at Ohio Wesleyan University.

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Facts First Webinar
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Truth or Scare
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Experts react to ads

BALLOT LANGUAGE VS PETITION LANGUAGE

To read the ballot language determined by Ohio's Ballot Board, go here

  • This is what voters will see when they go to vote.


To read the amendment as it would be in the Ohio Constitution, go here.

  • This is what people who signed the petition to get Issue 1 on the ballot agreed to, and what the actual amendment would look like in the Constitution if Ohio voters pass it.

 

Why are they different?

  • All statewide issues Ohioans vote on go to the Ohio Ballot Board before they end up on our ballots; their job is to prescribe and certify the ballot language. Sometimes the words voters see on the ballot are different than what the words of the proposed statute, referendum, or amendment would be if passed. It may be an effort to simplify a really long ballot, or to summarize the details. Sometimes, unfortunately, a Ballot Board decision to change the language voters will see is driven by biased objectives.

  • But even when the Ballot Board changes some of the words placed in front of voters when they're voting, if an issue passes the new statute of amendment uses the original petition language. That means that if passed, Issue 1 would be adopted using the words some Ohioans read when they signed the petition to get it onto the ballot for the fall election.

Ballot language v petiton language

OHIO DECIDES: ISSUE 1 FORUM

Ohio Decides: Issue 1 Forum
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NOTE: LWVO was not involved in this forum; we just always love to support opportunities for voter education.

Ohio Debate Commission in collaboration with Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, and Spectrum News, conducted an hour-long forum on Issue 1, the proposed constitutional amendment related to reproductive freedoms.

The program was recorded Wednesday, October 11, 2023, in Spectrum studios in Columbus live to tape without an audience, and released for viewing on Sunday, October 15.

Moderator: Curtis Jackson.

Journalists: Jessie Balmert, Tyler Buchanan, Karen Kasler.

"Yes" campaign representative: Desiree Tims. "No" campaign representative: Mehek Cooke.

 

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Vote411 analysis

ISSUE 1 ANALYSIS OF ISSUE 1 BY THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS

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Go to vote411.org/OH
to get your customized ballot

Includes:

  • What it means to vote YES on Issue1

  • What it means to vote NO on Issue W​

  • Pros

  • ​Cons

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