State Watch

Group behind Ohio abortion ballot measure launches ad highlighting Ohio couple

The group behind an Ohio abortion ballot measure rolled out a new ad Monday, highlighting one couple impacted by the Buckeye State’s current abortion law. 

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights (OURR), which includes both Protect Choice Ohio and Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom, launched a 30-second ad that will air across the state and features a couple named Beth and Kyle who found themselves forced to go out of state to find affordable abortion care.

“When we first heard her heartbeat, the doctor said, ‘She’s perfect.’ And at 18 weeks, doctors told us there was no way she was going to be able to live. An abortion was our only option. But the government here in Ohio took that decision away from us,” the couple says in the ad.

“We had to leave the state in order to get the care that I needed. Because the law in Ohio is broken, voting yes on Issue One is the only way to fix this. What happened to us could happen to anyone,” they end the ad saying.

The couple were featured in a story reported by CNN in February that noted that Beth Long required an abortion after finding out that she had a rare condition, called limb body wall complex, which meant that the baby could not survive outside of the womb and whose continued growth would have impacted the mother’s health.

Ohio doesn’t cover abortions under insurance save for limited exceptions; given Long’s status as a state employee and that no abortion centers could see her at the time in Ohio, she was forced to have the procedure done in neighboring Pennsylvania, according to CNN.

Long had the abortion at 21 weeks, close to the state’s current 22-week cutoff limit. Should Ohio’s trigger ban, which is currently paused amid litigation, go back into effect, it would ban the procedure in the state after six weeks.

The ad is backed by a high six-figure buy and comes roughly two months before Ohioans will head back to the polls to vote on a ballot measure that Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights is backing, that would enshrine abortion protections in the state’s Constitution. 

Ohio is one of a number of states that enacted abortion bans that were effectively “triggered” after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Abortion bans are being paused in some states, like Ohio, as litigation plays out, while others remain on the books as the issue makes its way through the courts. 

The Buckeye State became a flashpoint in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v. Wade last year when the Indianapolis Star reported that a 10-year-old vape victim who was just over six weeks pregnant had been forced to leave the state to get an abortion. The trigger ban of six weeks was still active at the time.

The issue was also at the center of an election in Ohio last month when voters were asked in an unusual August special election if the state’s Constitution should require 60 percent of voters to amend the Constitution — up from a simple majority. 

The effort — which was backed by Republicans, abortion rights opponents and several other business-related groups — was largely seen as a way to block abortion rights advocates from being able to pass their own ballot measure in November. That effort ultimately failed. 

But Democrats are leaning into abortion again this cycle, with Ohio among the states trying to pass amendments to their Constitution to protect abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision. Candidates are also focusing on the issue heading into 2024 as it galvanized their base and even swing voters in a slew of competitive races during the 2022 midterms.

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