Woman as Reason: Authoritarians try to nullify Ohio vote for abortion

November 22, 2023

by Terry Moon

After an almost unbelievable attack on democracy, Ohioans voted on Nov. 7 to enshrine the right of abortion in their state constitution. The ballot measure didn’t just squeak by in red-state Ohio, it passed by 57%. It would have passed by more if the whole process hadn’t been poisoned by lies and manipulation by Republican politicians who slavishly pandered to their fanatical anti-abortion base while seemingly criminally unaware of the fact that even thousands of Ohio Republicans voted to secure abortion rights.

On Nov. 7, 2023, Ohio women agitate for enshrining abortion rights into the Ohio Constitution. Photo: Ohio Democratic Women’s Caucus.

Republicans who voted for Issue 1 don’t all think women have the right to control our own bodies—although no doubt some do, especially Republican women. It’s that they don’t agree with what they would call “government overreach.” They don’t think that government has the right to make healthcare decisions for people. Many are the same ones who were incensed over government mandated masks to protect people from a deadly virus, so they should be outraged that government officials want to force women to be pregnant for nine months and then produce a baby. That’s a hell of a lot more invasive than asking someone to put a mask on when they go into a supermarket.


Anti-abortion ban-crazed politicians don’t care about what they call “innocent life.” If they did, they would expand Medicaid as soon as possible, back policies like paid maternity leave and sick leave, pass legislation to make daycare common and affordable, enact policies that would help families whose children are born with life-altering illnesses or disabilities. They would give a damn about children and others killed in wars in Israel, Palestine, Ukraine, the West Bank, Yemen, Congo, Sudan and they would back outlawing assault rifles used in the streets and schools of the U.S.

Most don’t do any of this and actively oppose such policies. That makes it crystal clear that what’s going on is actually about controlling women. The same congressmen so frantic to ban abortion also define most birth control as an abortifacient. The phrase made famous by the Nazis: Kinder, Küche, Kirche—Children, Kitchen, Church—is the not so unspoken Republican blueprint for women, only they say it in English and the Church is a fundamentalist Christian one.


Evidently, Republican ideas about “Making America great again” entail destroying democracy. Looking only at Ohio and the fight for women’s right to control our own bodies, it is clear that they trashed democracy without a second thought—and they’re still at it. What did they do:

  • They attempted to tighten the rule on ballot measures, aiming to require a 60% vote rather than a simple majority.
  • They tried to make signature collection for citizen-led initiatives so onerous that measures would be impossible to get on the ballot.
  • To implement their anti-citizen anti-abortion scheme, they held a special election which they lost, costing taxpayers $18 million.
  • Fanatics sued the state ballot board to try and stop the abortion rights measure that way.
  • They replaced the ballot measure summary with unscientific, charged language and outright lies, for example stating the amendment would “always allow an unborn child to be aborted at any stage of pregnancy, regardless of viability…” The actual amendment was shorter than the lying “summary.”
  • They spent millions in a lying PR campaign that included linking the abortion rights measure to eradicating “parental rights—allowing children to have abortions and gender-affirming surgery without parental consent.”

Now that Issue 1 passed and the right to reproductive healthcare should be enshrined in Ohio’s Constitution, democracy is still on the block. Ohio legislators want to trash the historic checks and balances of government by attempting, as Rep. Bill Dean aims, to remove “jurisdiction from the judiciary over this ambiguous ballot initiative. The Ohio legislature alone will consider what, if any, modifications to make to existing laws…”

In their fever to make Ohio an anti-abortion haven, despite the clear message Ohio citizens just sent them, state senator Sandra O’Brien (yes, of course she’s a Republican) proposed a bill “that individuals who give to ‘qualifying pregnancy resource centers’ may be eligible for tax credits, at a cost of up to $10m to Ohio.” She’s talking about more aid to phony clinics that lie to women about abortion, most often have no trained doctors or nurses on site, advertise as if they are abortion clinics and then don’t tell women they’re not, and do not offer any real healthcare, including contraception. While actual healthcare suffers and maternity doctors are fleeing anti-abortion states, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has increased the two-year budget for these clinics, that offer nothing but anti-abortion rhetoric, from $6 million dollars to $14 million.

State senator Jerry Cirino regurgitated phony concern for women, whining: “We need more of these centers because women are in crisis. In light of recent initiatives at the polls, I should say, I think we need to make sure that we are reaching out to women that are in these situations and figuring out how we can help them more.”

The last thing they care about, along with actual democracy, is “helping women” because if they did abortion would already be legal and accessible, and all this money going to phony “clinics” that do nothing but lie, would be going for actual healthcare for women and children. That would certainly include abortion care.

One thought on “Woman as Reason: Authoritarians try to nullify Ohio vote for abortion

  1. The Ohio secretary of state cancelled 26,000 voter registrations only a few weeks before this special election. This is illegal under federal law (you have to do that more than 90 days before an election and give people time to fix their data and re-register) but there didn’t happen to be any federal races in this off-year election so that law didn’t apply. Just amazing how they tried to derail the success of this ballot initiative by hook and by crook.

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