Nov 9, 2023 - News

What Ohio's abortion vote means for 2024 elections

What Ohio's "yes" vote means for 2024. Photo: Megan Jelinger/AFP via Getty Images

Ohio voters' decision to enshrine abortion rights into the state constitution could have major implications for next year's general election.

Driving the news: On Tuesday, Ohio became the seventh state to protect abortion rights through a ballot measure since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year.

  • Ohioans adopted an amendment that guarantees a person's right to an abortion and other reproductive care up until fetal viability, which is usually around 23 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

Why it matters: Democrats hope the vote is a harbinger for the 2024 election, when abortion is expected to be a key campaign issue for President Joe Biden, Sen. Sherrod Brown and others.

Zoom in: Tuesday's results — which drew support from most liberals and nearly 1-in-5 Republicans, per exit polls — are encouraging for Brown, who is expected to face stiff competition as he seeks re-election in 2024.

  • A Republican primary battle among state Sen. Matt Dolan, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose and businessman Bernie Moreno will determine Brown's opponent next November.
  • That race could help determine whether Democrats hold their Senate majority.

The intrigue: Brown's campaign has already released a new video criticizing Ohio's Republican Senate candidates for supporting abortion restrictions.

Zoom out: On Tuesday, abortion rights advocates also scored major victories in Kentucky and Virginia.

  • Democrats in Virginia won control of both legislative chambers, following Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin's promise to pursue a 15-week abortion ban if Republicans won.
  • In Kentucky, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear won a second term with a campaign focused on support for abortion rights.

The big picture: The results are encouraging for Biden, as new polls show him trailing former President Trump, the likely Republican nominee, in key states.

  • The New York Times/Siena Poll of 2024 battleground states shows Biden's support among Hispanic and Black voters — crucial to his win in 2020 — may be softening.

What they're saying: Biden vowed, in a statement Tuesday, "My Administration will continue to protect access to reproductive health care and call on Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law once and for all."

  • Brown also issued a statement saying, "Tonight, Ohioans made it clear that women's health care decisions should be between them and their doctors, not politicians … While my opponents work to ban abortion, I will continue fighting for and standing with the people of Ohio."

The other side: Republicans aren't giving up their fight. Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman called this "just the beginning of a revolving door of ballot campaigns to repeal or replace" the amendment.

  • Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens insisted "the legislature has multiple paths we will explore to continue to protect innocent life."

What's next: New York and Maryland will vote on proposals to enshrine abortion rights into their constitutions in November 2024.

Yes, but: Anti-abortion advocates in Iowa and Pennsylvania are working on measures to denounce abortion as a state constitutional right.

ICYMI: Ohio votes to legalize recreational marijuana


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