This story is part CityBeat‘the sand Cleveland Scenethe feature package of on what the inversion of june 24th of Roe vs. Wade means in Ohio. Read more stories in our abortion series.
As noted earlier in this series, many Ohioans and most Americans want abortion care to stay in place. But the likelihood of an outright ban on proceedings in Buckeye State is virtually certain as Ohio lawmakers consider next steps after the U.S. Supreme Court overturns. Roe vs. Wade. Here, conservative political games will allow that to happen.
Pressure from Republicans in Ohio to ban the procedure was almost effortless. A statewide ban on abortion care after six weeks gestation has already gone into effect since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned deer. Two “trigger” bills banning abortion care (except in vaguely defined emergencies) are also set to pass.
“I think a realistic person would say there is almost no constituency in Ohio for an abortion ban, and yet that is by far the most likely political outcome we envision,” says David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati who researches gerrymandering and has testified as an expert witness in court cases on the subject.
“There’s only one reason Ohio has a legislature to the right of Mississippi, and that’s because the maps were drawn that way,” he says. “The maps we’ve been living under for 10 years are about the second most gerrymandered in the country.”
Ohioans will choose new state lawmakers on Aug. 2 using district maps that the Ohio Supreme Court has repeatedly dismissed as unconstitutional for unfairly favoring Republicans. Niven says the U.S. Supreme Court is shifting the decision on abortion care to the states without considering how redistricting moves policy outcomes away from what voters actually want.
“I don’t think ‘Catch-22’ is a strong enough phrase,” Niven says.
Nonetheless, the rejected and unconstitutional cards are expected to remain in place for November’s general election, when voters decide who sits in the governor’s seat. Democrat Nan Whaley, who takes on Republican incumbent Mike DeWine, says she could do a lot as governor to resist a ban on abortion care.
“The Ohio governor’s office is roughly the fourth most powerful in the nation, not just because of budget lines, but because of appointments and the work they can do on public health access. There is no singular position more powerful, regardless of what the legislature does, than the governor’s seat for this issue,” Whaley said.
In order to prevent a ban from passing, Whaley would need a real veto, which a House and Senate full of Republicans would prevent. The Ohio Senate is made up of 25 Republicans and eight Democrats, with 17 seats in the upcoming ballot. Currently, there are 64 Republicans in the Ohio House and 35 Democrats. With all of their seats on the ballot, the chances of Democrats securing enough new seats to prevent a three-fifths vote from overriding a Whaley veto are slim, Niven says.
“The Democrats won’t come close to a majority. At best, they win enough votes to prevent the legislature from overriding a theoretical veto by Nan Whaley. But the odds don’t really favor that as an outcome,” Niven says.
There are additional offices on the ballot beyond the legislature that could affect how an abortion care ban is felt in Ohio.
Representative Jeff Crossman is challenging incumbent Dave Yost for the Ohio Attorney General position. He says that to give Democrats a chance in districts in a way that would be constitutional under the Ohio Supreme Court — and, in turn, give them a chance to influence or preserve access to health care. Abortion – Attorney General Must Arrange Redistricting Feet of Fire Commission. Crossman filed a dereliction of duty complaint against the Republican-led commission on May 26, a lead he wants Yost to pursue.
“The Attorney General should join us in saying that these people are acting with contempt, because that is exactly what is happening,” Crossman said. “We are directed, not governed.” (Yost did not respond to our requests for comment).
Regardless of whether or not district maps are in place for Ohio — or even if they continue to be ruled unconstitutional — the special election to vote in the Legislative Assembly is scheduled for Aug. 2. The deadline to register to vote in the special election is July 5. The deadline to register for the November general election is October 11.
With deer now overturned, CityBeat explores what comes next for Ohioans seeking abortion resources and reproductive care. Click below to read our in-depth stories on each topic.
Editor’s note: Some of the people and organizations quoted in this article frame their language of abortion around “women,” that is, a sex assigned at birth. But transgender men, intersex people, non-binary people, and agender people also receive abortion care. We will continue to explore abortion issues that affect all individuals in future stories.
This feature is a collaborative effort of reporters and editors at CityBeat in Cincinnati and Cleveland Scene in Cleveland, including Sam Allard, Allison Babka, Madeline Fening, Vince Grzegorek, Gennifer Harding-Gosnell, Maggy McDonel, Ashley Moor, and Maija Zummo.
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