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Ohio Newspapers Refuse to Endorse Issue 1

by | Oct 27, 2023

By Becca Rupp, Secular Pro-Life

“The Blade has always supported women’s right to an abortion. This amendment to the state constitution goes too far and should be defeated.” —The Blade Editorial Board, Toledo Blade

This poignant quote (emphasis added) ended a recent editorial, Issue One Overreach, from the Toledo Blade. While newspapers all over Ohio are covering the November ballot measure, it might surprise some to see such non-neutral opinions coming directly from major news outlets.

Ohio is actively debating Issue 1, a ballot measure that enshrines abortion rights and more into the Ohio constitution. Proponents are using the messaging that the amendment is necessary for the health of women, while seeming to ignore the fact that Ohio already has extensive provisions in its law to protect care for missed miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, inevitable miscarriage, premature rupture of membranes, and a host of other life-threatening conditions (see Ohio Revised Code 2919.112919.191, and 2919.16K respectively). 

These protections are secured even if Ohio’s Heartbeat Act stands (which is currently held up in courts and not enforced).

Opponents point to the expansive reach of the amendment language as opening the door for a host of problems in Ohio down the road. The language threatens parental consenthealth and safety regulations for abortion facilities, and creates broad “health” exemptions to post-viability abortions, which include non-medical reasons. Issue 1 is extreme in its scope and should raise eyebrows for pro-life and pro-choice voters alike.

It would seem that big city newspapers have noticed. 

The sentiment in Ohio often reflects that of other swing states: pro-life candidates tend to fare better in rural counties while pro-choice ones tend to do better in cities with higher population density. The expectation in the Issue 1 debate might have been that rural counties would stand alone in trying to defeat the measure, but recent editorials released from the Toledo’s and Cleveland’s most major papers tell a different story. 

It is not uncommon for these papers to either directly or indirectly endorse a certain way of voting. For example, both the Toledo Blade and the Cleveland Plain Dealer are explicitly endorsing a “YES” vote on Ohio’s Issue 2: the legalization of recreational marijuana. They are, however, obviously uncomfortable endorsing “YES” for Issue 1, even from a clearly pro-choice vantage point.

The Toledo Blade’s editorial board goes on to say (emphasis added):

With just one doctor’s say-so, this amendment would allow late-term elective abortions of nearly fully grown unborn babies, something Ohioans should not be willing to stomach as a constitutional right.

If Issue 1 passes, the state constitution will protect women’s rights to their bodies. Those rights will be sacrosanct in this strongly worded pro-abortion amendment. It will be up to Ohio’s General Assembly, the Supreme Court, and the medical profession to protect the rights of unborn babies. It’s not good enough.

Ohio needs a reasonable abortion law… that the great majority of Ohioans, pro-life and pro-choice, can accept. That’s a judgment that should be made through the legislative process, not through the unsubtle and permanent impact of amending the state constitution— The Blade Editorial Board, Toledo Blade

The Cleveland Plain Dealer was less direct listing its Endorsement Roundup; while they were comfortable blatantly telling voters to support the marijuana measure (Issue 2), they opted out of commenting on abortion in Issue 1. Instead, they hyperlinked multiple editorials. Opponents of the amendment echoed the Blade’s pro-choice observations. Columnist Ted Diadiun wrote (emphasis added):

The current post-Roe “heartbeat” law in Ohio banning abortions before most women even know they are pregnant is too strict for most people. But Issue 1 expands legalized abortion far beyond anything we’ve seen. It specifically bans the state from considering the life of the unborn child. The only restrictions allowed are to advance the pregnant woman’s health “in accordance with widely accepted and evidence-based standards of care” – whatever that means.

And, while it allows the state to restrict abortions after viability, it leaves the “viability” determination completely in the hands of the attending physician. It gives the physician the latitude to end a pregnancy at any time he or she believes it’s necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health (which could include mental health), with no need for consultation. That erases any guardrails whatsoever…

Voters need to read the proposed amendment and understand the open-ended provisions it includes. The result will be tragic if they don’t. —Ted Diadiun, Cleveland Plain Dealer column

Overwhelmingly, the Plain Dealer’s editorials in favor of the amendment appealed to emergency care (which we’ve already noted is a manipulative, fear-mongering argument), or they painted the pro-life stance as a purely religious one. Both Eric Foster and Leila Atassi claimed religion is the only possible rationale for abortion restrictions, couching their arguments with assertions that women cannot be equal to men without access to abortion.

Obviously they didn’t get the memo that you don’t have to be religious to oppose killing members of our species, or that legalized violence toward our offspring is a cheap substitution for real women’s equality.

The reality is that Ohio’s Issue 1 represents only a narrow pool of voters; those who believe in completely deregulated abortion on demand without limits. A recent NPR poll found that only 22% of Americans want elective abortion to be available through all nine months of pregnancy.

Even among pro-choice voters, people still favor common sense restrictions like parental consent, 24-hour waiting periods, and viability limits. Issue 1 advocates have been trying to scare Ohioans into believing that this extreme amendment is the only way to avoid putting women’s health at risk. But care for pregnancy complications is already protected in Ohio; this amendment would actually threaten the health and safety standards women deserve, and it would undoubtedly destroy countless viable, healthy, pain-capable children. We agree with the Toledo BladeIssue 1 goes too far and should be defeated.

Categories: State Legislation