Understanding Ohio Issue 1: A Comprehensive Overview of the Reproductive Rights Amendment (2023)


In the upcoming November election in Ohio, Issue 1 takes center stage, presenting voters with a critical decision regarding reproductive rights. This proposed constitutional amendment, titled "The Right to Reproductive Freedom with Protections for Health and Safety," aims to redefine the landscape of abortion, contraception, fertility treatment, miscarriage care, and the continuation of pregnancy. In this article, we delve into the key aspects of Issue 1, breaking down its implications, potential consequences, and the arguments presented by advocates and opponents.

The Essence of Issue 1

Issue 1 revolves around granting individuals the legal choice in matters of reproductive health. By supporting a 'YES' vote, voters endorse the enshrinement of access to abortion, contraception, and fertility treatment into the state constitution, offering legal protection for these reproductive rights. Conversely, a 'NO' vote opposes the proposed reproductive rights amendment.

Potential Impact and Legal Analysis

Legal experts, including Case Western Reserve University law professor Atiba Ellis, provide insights into the potential consequences of Issue 1. Contrary to claims suggesting a threat to parental rights, Ellis clarifies that the amendment's language must be specific to have a constitutional effect. He emphasizes that if a matter is not explicitly addressed in the text, it will not alter existing laws.

In the event of Issue 1 passing, the constitutional amendment is predicted to revert the state to pre-US Supreme Court rulings, allowing abortion up to 22 weeks. Ellis dismisses the possibility of Republican lawmakers overturning the amendment, highlighting the supremacy of constitutional law.

Judicial Landscape and Potential Challenges

The Ohio Supreme Court's approval of placing Issue 1 on the November ballot adds a layer of complexity. Once passed, the amendment becomes integral to the constitution, binding both the legislature and the courts. Any attempt to challenge it could lead to litigation, emphasizing the legal safeguards protecting reproductive rights.

In the event of Issue 1 failing, concerns arise about the potential reinstatement of a six-week abortion ban. Attorney Jessie Hill, representing the ACLU, points to the Supreme Court justices' prior statements, suggesting a willingness to support such a ban without exceptions for rape or incest.

Advocates and Opponents

Understanding the stance of various groups is crucial in evaluating Issue 1. Advocates include Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, the Ohio Democratic Party, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Ohio AFL-CIO. On the opposing side are groups like Protect Women Ohio, the Ohio Republican Party, Catholic dioceses, and End Abortion Ohio.

Voting Details

For Ohio residents, participating in the decision on Issue 1 involves voting at local boards of elections on specified dates. The voting period spans from October 16 to November 7, with various time slots available. It's essential to be aware of the acceptable forms of ID, including an unexpired photo ID such as a passport or driver's license.


Issue 1 stands as a pivotal moment in Ohio's reproductive rights landscape. As voters navigate the complexities of this proposed amendment, understanding its intricacies, potential implications, and the perspectives of both advocates and opponents becomes paramount. The November election will determine the fate of reproductive rights in the state, making an informed decision crucial for every voter.


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