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March for Life at Ohio Statehouse comes just a month before Ohioans vote on abortion

The starting line of the March for Life 2023 rally in downtown Columbus
Jo Ingles
/
Statehouse News Bureau
The starting line of the March for Life 2023 rally in downtown Columbus

More than a thousand people of all ages, races and religions carried signs, prayed, sang, listened to speakers on the West Lawn of the Ohio Statehouse before eventually marching through the streets of downtown Columbus.

Those who attended the second annual 2023 March for Life Ohio had their sights on one thing – defeating a number constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in one month that could enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution.

Citizens for Christian Virtue Executive Director Aaron Baer said the annual event serves a special purpose this year: “this is our rallying cry building up to the Nov. 7 election.”

Protect Women Ohio is the main coalition working to defeat Issue 1 on the Nov. 7 ballot. Its spokeswoman Amy Natoce said the group is active at events around the state and has been airing television ads at key times.

“We actually ran an ad during the Notre Dame – Ohio State game,” Natoce said.

Natoce said the group intends to air more ads during the countdown to the election.

Pastor Brian Williams of Hope City House of Prayer in Columbus is the leader of a group of about 150 Black faith leaders who are working to defeat the November amendment. He made a correlation between abortion and racism when noting the percentage of abortion procedures among Black women.

“There’s two twisted kind of ideas happening here: the abortion industry and racism. And when those two issues converge, you have a nuclear bomb of deception,” Williams said.

This year’s event featured Ohio’s freshman Republican U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance. Like others who took to the microphone before him, he urged the crowd to vote no on the upcoming ballot issue. Vance told reporters afterward that the proposed amendment is not what Ohioans want or need. And he was asked if there should be a national ban on abortion.

“It’s reasonable to support a federal minimum standard. I think you don’t want the federal government to go too far because you want the states to make their own policies on this stuff. Sen. [Lindsey] Graham (R-SC) has proposed a pain-capable, sort of a late-term abortion ban at the federal level. I think that’s the basic right approach – let the federal government do that and then let the states figure it out from there,” Vance said.

Issue 1’s backers say they have been focusing on turning out the vote from the 700,000 Ohioans who signed petitions to put it on the ballot. But that side also plans rallies across the state this weekend, including one at the Statehouse on Sunday.

Kellie Copeland with Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights said the state’s law that bans abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy was in effect for 83 days last year before being put on hold by a Hamilton County Court. She said Issue 1 would ensure that it cannot be brought back.

“Our opponents say this is about a lot of things but what this is about, truly, is about who makes these personal decisions for you and your family. Is it going to be you or is it going to be the government? If you think it should be you, you should vote ‘yes’ on Issue 1,” Copeland said.

The last day to register to register to vote in the November election is Tuesday, Oct. 10. Early voting begins Wednesday.

 

Contact Jo Ingles at jingles@statehousenews.org.