Pro-abortion Ohio state representatives are following up the anti-abortion Ohio March for Life that occurred earlier this week by championing a bill to codify rights established by the obsolete Roe v. Wade decision.
Representatives Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) and Jessica Miranda (D-Forest Park) introduced the policy in May and it has yet to receive committee consideration, let alone a vote of the House chamber. The bill lacks sufficient time for passage and both the GOP-controlled legislature and pro-life Governor Mike DeWine (R) are poised to reject it if they remain in power. But in a year when Democrats face an uphill fight in the Buckeye State, the party is investing much hope in abortion advocacy to better its electoral fortunes.
Since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe ruling which legalized abortion nationwide, Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has constantly reminded voters of DeWine’s opposition to abortion as he seeks re-election. Formerly pro-life U.S. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) has also loudly hewed to the abortion advocates’ agenda in his campaign for U.S. Senate against pro-life Republican J.D. Vance.
Republican state officials have meanwhile steadfastly defended a new law to ban abortion in cases when an unborn baby’s heartbeat is detected. That measure, enacted in 2019 but only effective after Roe’s demise, is presently tied up in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. The legislation proposed by Lepore-Hagan and Miranda would end that and other state restrictions on abortion.
“Ohioans overwhelmingly support the freedom to make your own healthcare decisions, but the Republican supermajority is stripping that right away with extreme anti-abortion legislation,” Miranda and Lepore-Hagan said in a statement. “Our Reproductive Freedom Act would protect against this government overreach and give Ohioans a voice on the right to control their own bodies.”
Their release cited survey data suggesting that over four-fifths of Buckeye Staters want legal protection for “some form of abortion access,” though most surveys show more nuance among the state’s voters. A poll released by Suffolk University in June indicated that 53 percent of Ohio voters wanted abortion to remain legal while 39 percent wanted protection for unborn life. The most recent data from the Pew Research Center show Ohio adults to be even more evenly split, with 48 percent supporting abortion and 47 percent opposing it.
And Ohio Democrats’ focus on what they term “reproductive freedom” has failed to gain them traction so far. Prognosticators see Vance as having an edge against Ryan while DeWine has maintained a near-insurmountable lead over Whaley throughout the campaign, with the Heartbeat Law not discernibly eroding DeWine’s support even slightly.
After Wednesday’s March, pro-life public officials and activists continued to celebrate what has largely been a good year for their cause.
“Great to join my pro-life colleagues at the first Ohio March for Life,” State Representative Susan Manchester (R-Waynesfield) tweeted Thursday. “We can’t wait to reconvene after the election and help give a voice to the voiceless, care for new mothers and parents and foster an environment in Ohio where every life is cherished.”
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Ohio Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].