Apr 18, 2024 - News

Abortion will be key topic in Ohio's November election

Bernie Moreno pumping his fist with an image of Donald Trump's face in the background

Republican Bernie Moreno says he supports a federal 15-week abortion ban. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Abortion will be a key topic in the presidential election and crucial statewide races, including the one between Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican opponent Bernie Moreno.

Why it matters: Democrats hold a slim majority in the U.S. Senate, but Republicans are eyeing several vulnerable incumbents, including Brown, for seats they could flip.

What they're saying: "The race between Brown and Moreno is going to be a tight one, I can imagine," Robert Alexander, professor of political science at Ohio Northern University, tells Axios.

  • "A major issue like abortion could swing it one way."

Flashback: Last August, Ohio voters rejected Issue 1, which anti-abortion rights advocates hoped would make it tougher to pass an abortion rights amendment in the state constitution.

  • Then, last November, voters adopted an amendment guaranteeing a person's right to an abortion and other reproductive care up until fetal viability.

The intrigue: Following Moreno's victory in the Republican Senate primary last month, Ohio Democrats released statements and ads calling a vote for Moreno "a vote for a national abortion ban," while asserting he's donated "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to anti-abortion rights causes.

Meanwhile, Brown has touted his record of supporting abortion access.

  • "I know where my opponents stand, too. [They] would overturn the will of Ohioans by voting for a national abortion ban."

The other side: Moreno has said he would vote for a national abortion ban of 15 weeks with "commonsense restrictions that again eliminate late-term abortions."

  • Following his victory, Moreno took aim at Brown, saying, "We have an opportunity now to retire the old commie ... and to save this country."

Reality check: Even though conservatives have advocated for a national abortion ban, former President Trump — the presumptive GOP presidential nominee — has said he thinks the issue should be left to the states to decide.

The big picture: Abortion remains a hot topic nationwide after the Arizona Supreme Court ruled last week to uphold a 160-year-old law that bans nearly all abortions in the state.

  • Abortion measures will be on November ballots in Florida, Maryland and New York, and could also appear on the ballots in several other states, including Arizona.

State of play: An East Carolina University survey of 1,298 Ohio voters last month showed Brown ahead of Moreno, 45% to 41%, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2%.

The bottom line: "The Democrats have to thread a pretty tight needle in order to get control of the legislature, and Brown's seat is a critical piece of that," says Alexander.

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