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Voters in Ohio will decide on a state constitutional right to abortion

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, abortion rights advocates in many states have brought the issue directly to voters.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now, in Ohio, voters are deciding whether to establish a constitutional right to abortion in that state. That election ends tonight.

INSKEEP: We're joined by Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles, who's covering this. Welcome back.

JO INGLES, BYLINE: Good morning.

INSKEEP: OK, so it's election day in Ohio. What would this constitutional amendment do if it passes?

INGLES: This amendment would guarantee the right to an abortion up to the point of viability and later, if a doctor deems it is necessary for the health or life of the mother.

INSKEEP: OK, up to the point of viability. That is different, of course, in different pregnancies. But we're talking about several months into a pregnancy that you would have a right to an abortion, correct?

INGLES: Correct.

INSKEEP: OK, so that is what the constitutional amendment would do. What is Ohio's law right now?

INGLES: Well, Ohio has a six-week abortion ban that was in place for 82 days last summer after Roe v. Wade was overturned. But a group of doctors took that to a county court, and the court ruled that the law was vague because it wasn't being applied uniformly. So now that ban is before the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court could reinstate it if this amendment fails. But if the amendment passes, it would no longer be constitutional.

INSKEEP: OK, OK. Let me ask something else. Didn't Ohio already have a vote somewhat on this issue earlier this year?

INGLES: Yes. In August, Republicans had put an issue on the ballot, a constitutional amendment that would have increased the threshold for passing constitutional amendments, including this one, to 60%. But that effort failed.

INSKEEP: Oh, OK. So they were trying to change the rules under which this election would take place. That didn't happen.

INGLES: Correct.

INSKEEP: So a majority gets to decide what the Constitution in Ohio will say. What are you hearing from voters now as Election Day arrives?

INGLES: Well, there are a lot of different opinions. There have been tens of millions of dollars poured into ads here, very contentious issue, highly advertised. The governor and his wife have appeared in an ad saying this amendment, which is similar to the one in Michigan, goes too far. But the polls show that there is very low support for the six-week abortion ban. And the polls also show that somewhere between 56 to 58% of Ohioans support some abortion rights. Now, Ohio is a red state, you remember that.

INSKEEP: Yeah.

INGLES: But abortion has been on the ballot in several states since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. And in each instance, in both red and blue states, anti-abortion activists or advocates have lost.

INSKEEP: Ohio Public Radio's Jo Ingles, thanks for your insights.

INGLES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Jo Ingles