Legislative Update: What Can We Learn from the Ohio Constitutional Referendum?

On Tuesday, Aug. 8, the people of Ohio voted no on a constitutional amendment that would have raised the bar to change their state constitution from 50-percent-plus-one to 60 percent. The “no” vote means the current law will stay in place. The vote is being seen as a defeat for pro-life forces who are now facing a November constitutional amendment that, if adopted, will wipe out every Ohio pro-life law and enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion at any point in her pregnancy. The vote wasn’t close, with 43 percent voting for the change and 57 percent voting against. Most observers who are following the pro-life debate in Ohio believe the November amendment will pass by a similar margin.

How can this be? Ohio, once considered a swing state in national politics, has been trending red for the last several elections. Like South Carolina, the Ohio Legislature is dominated by Republicans who have a veto-proof majority in both the Senate (26-7) and the House (67-32). Of course, neither chamber needs to worry much about overcoming a veto because, also like South Carolina, the governor, lieutenant governor, and every other partisan office holder in the state is a Republican.

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