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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

What the Kansas abortion vote might mean for a ballot effort here in Ohio

Abortion rights supporters protest at the Ohio Statehouse on June 26, 2022. [Jo Ingles /  Statehouse News Bureau]
Abortion rights supporters protest at the Ohio Statehouse on Sunday, June 26, 2022

By a nearly two to one margin earlier this week, voters in Kansas turned down a measure that would have stripped protection for abortion rights from that state’s constitution.

In Ohio, it's too late to mount a similar effort in time for this November's election, but some groups are considering putting a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on the ballot next year.

Kellie Copeland, executive director with ProChoice Ohio, said the experience in Kansas should make those who oppose abortion rights in Ohio think twice.

“This is really a cautionary tale for anti-choice politicians," Copeland said. "In Kansas, their constitution clearly stated that it protected abortion rights. And anti-choice politicians there rushed to the ballot in the hopes that they could strip those rights from Kansas. And they messed around and they found out. And I think that politicians in Ohio such as Gov. DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost, members of the state Legislature and specifically members of the state Supreme Court should take heed, that they should look at this and understand that if they try to eliminate abortion access completely in Ohio, they will pay a similar price.”

The president of Ohio Right to Life, Mike Gonidakis, has a different take on what happened in Kansas.

“It’s not an apples to apples comparison," Gonidakis said. "In fact, it is completely opposite. You see, in Kansas, they had an election on a very important issue, life, in August. If that same election were held in November when people are actually participating, the outcome would have been different just based on the voting trends, the demographics and the conservative nature of the state of Kansas. But at the end of the day, for whatever reason it is, I’m unfamiliar with it, they had this vote in August when most people are on family vacation, tune out, checked out or getting ready to put their kids back in schools."

Around 47% of registered voters in Kansas voted in Tuesday’s election. That’s more than double the number of Kansas voters who cast ballots in the 2018 midterm election.

The Ohio groups considering putting abortion related-issues on the ballot in Ohio are still in the planning stages at this point. Abortion rights supporters want to overturn the current law that prohibits abortion once fetal cardiac activity can be detected. That's usually around six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.

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