A majority of Ohioans want abortion care to stay in place, but the likelihood of a near-total ban on procedures is all but certain as Ohio lawmakers brace for the likelihood that the Supreme Court of the United States cancels Roe vs. Wade this summer. In Buckeye State, conservative political games will allow that to happen.
Data from the PEW Research Center shows that 48% of adults in Ohio support abortion care remaining legal in all or most cases, with 47% saying it should be illegal in all or most cases. all or most cases (4% of Ohioans said they don’t know). The same survey found that 61% of Americans support access to abortion care in all or most cases.
While the divide between Ohioans’ opinions on the procedure may seem very thin, Republicans’ push to ban the procedure in the state was almost effortless. A statewide ban on abortion care after six weeks’ gestation (aka the “heartbeat bill”) is already in effect and will go into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court canceled Roe vs. Wade. Two “trigger” bills banning abortion care (except in vaguely defined emergencies) are about 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,” David Niven, a political science professor at the University of Cincinnati who studies gerrymandering and has testified as an expert witness in gerrymandering cases, says City beat.
“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 August 2 using district maps that the Supreme Court of Ohio has repeatedly rejected 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 skews political outcomes away from what voters actually want.
“I don’t think catch-22 is a strong enough phrase,” Niven says. “It’s kind of Alice in Wonderland logical trap.
The cards are expected to remain in place for the general election in November, when voters decide who sits in the governor’s seat. Democrat Nan Whaley, who takes on incumbent Mike DeWine, recounts city beat 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 the passage of a ban, Whaley would need a true power of veto, which a House and a 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, and while all of their seats are on the ballot, the odds of Democrats securing enough new seats to prevent a three-fifths vote overriding a Whaley’s vetoes are slim, Niven said.
“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 other offices on the ballot beyond the legislature that could impact how an abortion care ban is felt in Ohio.
Representative Jeff Crossman is challenging incumbent Dave Yost for Ohio Attorney General. He told Yost, who didn’t respond to City Beat’s request for comment, promised to ask the court to withdraw an injunction that would put the heartbeat bill in place.
“The Attorney General’s role is to preserve people’s civil rights,” Crossman said. city beat. “Having an attorney general who will continue to stand up for women’s rights is important.”
Crossman says that for tTo 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 access to abortion care — the Attorney General must hold the feet of the redistricting commission under fire. Crossman sued for dereliction of duty against the 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 ruled, not ruled.
No matter the neighborhood Maps are or are not in place for Ohio – or same if they continue to be ruled unconstitutional – the special election to vote in the legislature is scheduled for August 2. The deadline for register to vote in the special election is July 5. The deadline to register for the November general election is October 11.