We Can’t Let Ohio Become the Next State to Legalize Abortions Up to Birth

Early voting is already underway in Ohio, the nation’s next abortion hotbed. On November 7, as the polls close, votes will be counted to determine whether or not Ohioans decide to enshrine “an individual right to … abortion” within their state constitution.

If voters vote “yes” on Issue 1, Ohio will become the fourth state in the nation (joining California, Michigan, and Vermont) to elevate abortion as a protected form of “reproductive freedom.” Just last August, the pro-life cause in Ohio encountered a serious setback when an initiative to raise the threshold for constitutional amendments — an effort to prevent the exact type of constitutional amendment it faces today – has notably failed in the double-digit spread. As Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said then, “Attacks on state constitutions are now the national playbook of the extreme pro-abortion Left.”

The pro-life movement has been caught in a tailspin since its stunning victory in 2022, when the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Since the historic Dobbs decision came down, the pro-life cause has lost ground whenever the issue directly appeared on the ballot, including in conservative-leaning states like Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, and Ohio.

Political scientist Jon A. Shields suggested in a recent article in The Atlantic that these losses are not a backlash against the pro-life movement but rather a fear of a “sudden disruption of the status quo.” In other words, in an ironic twist, it’s a core conservative impulse that has driven the latest string of pro-life setbacks.

If Shields is right, however, the same conservative impulse that has caused pro-lifers so many losses elsewhere could end up winning the day for the pro-life movement in Ohio. While Ohio is not as conservative as Kansas, Kentucky, or Montana, there are still at least two important differences between this and other votes that could help Ohio turn the tide on a life victory.

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For starters, this is the first time we will see a major pro-abortion ballot initiative in a Republican-leaning state. Past conservative losses have all been instances where the pro-life movement has been on the offensive, seeking to stop abortion through various initiatives. In those states – as in Ohio’s previous constitutional amendment initiative – the status quo bias operates against the pro-life cause, but this time in Ohio, the same bias must be at work for pro-lifers defending the status quo against progressive overreach. Studies have shown that this is especially true in decisions about complex ruleslike Issue 1, which invokes concepts like “fertility treatment,” “miscarriage care,” and “fetal viability,” rather than a straightforward yes-no abortion decision.

Second, Americans have rejected the most extreme form of the status quo that has persisted for decades under Roe v. Wade and could be resurrected if Issue 1: partial-birth abortion succeeds. Even describing it recognizes how abhorrent the practice is, comparable to the kinds of barbaric acts that the world was shocked to the Hamas attack on Israel. The procedure involves the abortionist partially delivering the unborn child until “baby’s whole head is outside the mother’s body” and then stabbing the “back of the child’s skull” to remove the “baby’s brain,” before delivering the other now-dead baby.

This gruesome practice was first put on the map by “Dr.” Martin Haskell and he perfected Ohio’s abortion facilities. But Ohioans ultimately rejected Haskell’s method, becoming the first state to ban it in 1995. Haskell, who continues to work as an abortionist, has donated at least $100,000 so far to revitalize Ohio’s status as the nation’s abortion laboratory. As Amy Natoce of Protect Women Ohio has said“Haskell knew it was an investment in his late-term abortion practice,” because Haskell was in record as performing partial-birth abortions from 20 weeks to “at least the ninth month.”

While Issue 1 has several provisions that its proponents falsely describe as “moderate,” including one that would allow the state to restrict abortion after fetal viability, unless “abortion is necessary to protect life or the health of the pregnant woman,” pro-life organizations have repeatedly and conclusively demonstrated that the viability standard does nothing to prevent abortionists like Haskell from performing partial-birth abortions, when mostly abortion is performed before there is a possibility of survival. Even after the possibility of survival, the Supreme Court in Doe v. Bolton that “health” exceptions can include anything from emotional health to “wellness” to serve as a loophole for abortion on demand at any time during pregnancy (and in the case of partial-birth abortion, even that the baby is outside).

If the conservative impulses of Ohioans — to uphold the status quo and reject the most barbaric forms of abortion — can’t be relied upon to stop Planned Parenthood and the abortion lobby in the state, the pro-life movement is in big trouble. .

LifeNews Note: Paul Teller serves as executive director of Advancing American Freedom in Washington, DC

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