Ohio Abortion Amendment Is a Wake-up Call

Last Tuesday, Ohio voters voted 57 to 43 percent to add a “right” to abortion to the state Constitution. What this means is that in Ohio abortion is now permitted without restriction up to the point of viability.

Tragically, the passage of this amendment makes it all but certain that Ohio’s 6-week abortion ban—signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine (R) in 2019—will not go into effect. At the time of this most recent vote, the law had been tied up in the courts. But given the repeal of Roe last year, it had a good chance of withstanding judicial scrutiny. Alas, those children that would have been protected by this law are now at the mercy of the abortionists.

Naturally, our “Catholic” president quickly responded to this horrific vote with a statement praising legal abortion. “Tonight,” stated President Biden, “Americans once again voted to protect their fundamental freedoms – and democracy won. In Ohio, voters protected access to reproductive health in their state constitution.”

Constitution displaying "we the people" on a wooden table


Not a Trend. A Wakeup Call.

While the outcome of the Ohio vote was not entirely unexpected, there is no question that it is a major blow. Real children will die because of it. Many of them. That is the stark reality. Those are the stakes involved in this fight.

Some pro-life activists had hoped that the pro-life side would win. After all, in 2020, Donald Trump won Ohio with 53.18% of the vote. In general, Trump voters are far more likely to be pro-life than Biden voters. However, for whatever reason, that 53% of voters did not show up to the polls to vote for life, when the right to life of the preborn child was explicitly on the ballot. That is beyond disappointing.

Many media commentators are leaping to the conclusion that this Ohio vote shows that abortion is a losing issue for Republican politicians. They argue that this latest vote is just the last in a series of defeats for the pro-life cause at the ballot box, which “proves” that the American people have no appetite for abortion bans. If the GOP wishes to win moving forward, they are saying, it must focus on other, more “popular” issues.

This is rubbish. In the first place, it’s clear that the pro-abortion movement is committing enormous resources to creating this impression of a landslide movement in their favor. That is, they are trying to “manufacture consensus” to try to discourage the pro-life cause and reverse the momentum.

In the wake of this vote, Ohio pro-lifers pointed out that they were massively outspent. As the pro-life group Protect Women Ohio stated after the vote:

We know that Issue 1 does not represent Ohio values. It took $35 million in out-of-state funding and ads filled with fear and deceit to push through the most radical abortion agenda in the country. An agenda that will cement late-term abortion in our Constitution, strip parents of their rights, and wipe out health and safety protections for women. This is not the Ohio way, and we are united in our fight against these extreme policies.

Ultimately, the pro-life side was outspent by $12 million during the campaign, with a lot of that money flowing in from out-of-state from well-funded pro-abortion activist groups funded by billionaires.

Furthermore, we know from experience that in a democracy there is often a “pendulum effect.” That is, when one side of the political spectrum wins a significant victory, the other side of the issue is often galvanized to renewed effort. Meanwhile, the side that just won becomes complacent, thinking that they no longer have to work as hard to maintain their momentum.

Pro-lifers worked to overturn Roe for fifty years. The death of Roe last year is one of the most significant victories in the history of the pro-life movement. In a way, it’s hardly surprising that the pro-abortion side is now hitting the ground running. Many pro-abortion activists have woken up to the fact that their precious “right to abortion” is actually being threatened in many states. In many, in fact, it is gone, and has been replaced with the right to life of our preborn brothers and sisters.

However, this latest loss at the ballot box needs to be a wakeup call for us. Pro-lifers who’ve been in the fight for long enough always knew that overturning Roe was just the beginning of the fight to end abortion in America: a hugely important step, but hardly the end. But with pro-abortion activists now outraged at our recent successes, we need to step up our game to meet and outmatch their level of determination and effort.

If any of us have given into complacency, assuming that with Roe gone it would be smooth sailing, now is the time to shake off our slumber, roll up our sleeves, and get to work! This fight will never be over, so long as we live. There is no resting on our laurels. There is just the daily effort to carry out God’s will, and fight to protect the vulnerable.


Ohio Bishops Urge Hope, Action

The Catholic Church in Ohio played a significant role in the fight to oppose Issue 1. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Catholic Church spent at least $1.7 million in supporting the pro-life fight.

In a statement after the vote, the Ohio bishops expressed their dismay at the result, and yet urged the pro-life faithful not to lose heart.

“Today is a tragic day for women, children, and families in Ohio,” the bishops said once the results of the vote were clear. “We mourn that the dignity of human life remains concealed by the duplicity of a culture of death.”

And yet, they added, “Though this is a day of sorrow, we are never without hope. St. Paul tells us that it is in hope that we were saved and, ‘if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.’”

The bishops vowed that despite the setback, the Catholic Church in Ohio would continue to defend preborn children, and to advocate for the family and women.

“As we pray for the conversion of minds and hearts to the gospel of life, we recommit ourselves to defending children in the womb and supporting women in need,” they wrote. “The Catholic Church and faithful will never grow weary in our mission to help women and families flourish through ministries such as Walking with Moms in Need and other local organizations that provide material and spiritual support and through advocacy with policymakers.”

The bishops thanked all those pro-life activists who had poured their money, time and prayers into defending the most vulnerable among us. “Your sacrifices prove that the Church will never abandon her mission to support human life,” they said. “We will persevere in this mission until every preborn child is protected, every pregnant woman is supported, and every human life receives respect, dignity, and justice.”

The bishops’ message of determination, hope, and recommitment to the cause is precisely what is needed at this dark moment.


The Victory Is Ours

However, even as we dust ourselves off, and recommit ourselves to focused, tireless effort in defense of the preborn, we should also take a moment to remind ourselves that all the taunting of the pro-abortion media is not even grounded in fact.

As noted above, pro-abortion activists and media are desperately attempting to portray the situation as one of an “inevitable” victory for pro-abortion forces. They wish to convince us that the tide has definitively turned against the pro-lifers. They want to take the heart out of us.

It is true that there have been some real losses in recent months. And yet, as pro-life analyst Michael New notes in National Review, there is every reason to believe that the momentum is solidly on the pro-life side. Don’t forget: Roe was the law of the land for fifty years! And now it’s gone. Rejoice in that fact!

No intelligent pro-lifer ever thought that the moment Roe was gone, that abortion would end in America, or that the fight would be over. For this reason, it’s appalling to read one author at the National Catholic Reporter arguing that the takeaway lesson from the latest Ohio defeat is that pro-lifers should “abandon” the political sphere. “Forget about changing the laws. Work on changing hearts,” he writes.


A Ludicrous False Dichotomy

What defeatist nonsense. Yes, of course we must change hearts! That’s why the pro-life movement has poured its heart and soul into founding educational organizations, and huge numbers of crisis pregnancy centers to reach the hearts of at-risk mothers. And yet, the idea that we must choose between changing hearts and laws is founded upon a ludicrous false dichotomy.

It’s not a choice between changing hearts and changing laws. After all, one of the key ways to change hearts is to change laws. Laws teach and affirm a society’s values. For fifty years, our society’s values, the hearts and minds of our citizens, were shaped by the unjust legal framework of Roe. That has all changed.

Furthermore, as New points out, thanks to the overturning of Roe, we have seen significant, concrete progress. Fourteen states now have laws banning all abortions. And after Roe was repealed, another seven states passed strong pro-life laws that protect a significant portion of preborn children. None of this would have been possible without the repeal of Roe.

In response to the massive victory of repealing Roe, we can expect a backlash. But instead of giving in to discouragement, we must use the ferocity of that backlash to galvanize us to renewed effort, not to throw up our hands and bemoan the fact that we can “never” win at the ballot box. Yes, we must continue to educate hearts and minds, and we must continue to pass laws that have the effect of saving real children, today.

Roe had to go. It was arguably the most egregious U.S. Supreme Court decision in the history of the United States. It was fundamentally, deeply unjust. It codified the systemic discrimination against the most innocent and weakest amongst us. The repeal of Roe was a magnificent victory. Do not for a minute listen to the taunting and jeers of pro-abortion journalists and activists who wish to discourage us with tendentious arguments suggesting that repealing Roe has somehow made things worse.

Now is not the time for discouragement. Now is the time for renewed effort. For prayer. For hope. After all, the victory is God’s, not ours. We place all our hope in Him, and we go to work as the happy warriors who rest confident in the knowledge that their Lord is the Lord of all, with the power to turn the tide in an instant.

As president of Human Life International, Fr. Boquet is a leading expert on the international pro-life and family movement, having journeyed to nearly 90 countries on pro-life missions over the last decade. Father Boquet works with pro-life and family leaders in 116 counties that partner with HLI to proclaim and advance the Gospel of Life. Read his full bio here.

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  1. David Prentis on December 14, 2023 at 11:58 AM

    Why has Biden not been excommunicated? The way he is acting he is on the way to hell. Excommunication would be a blessing – it might help to turn him from his wicked ways and so that he would be saved after all.

  2. Annette DiFolco on November 14, 2023 at 7:51 AM

    The Pro Choice advocates believe abortion is for women. It is the big lie. First focus on the fact Plan Parenthood is a buisness. Plan Paenthood dors not cate about the lifelojg affect the abortion choice has on the wonen getting the abortion. As a women who had an abortion over 30 yrs ago I still suffer in my heart for that choice. I am a mother my husband and I were blessed with 2 children and 5 grandchildren. I ask our Lord God the Father in Heaven in the name of Jesus for forgiveness and I thank God everyday for His Merces. He gave my husband and I the blessing of 2 childten and 5 grandchildren.

  3. Loretta O'Connor on November 13, 2023 at 2:52 PM

    Thank your for your article. I was upset when I read about the turnaround the other day. Please God we will succeed again. Perhaps the pro-life people there thought that they would win and didn’t bother going canvassing. Anyway it’s very sad. What are the percentages for Republicans vs Democrats in Ohio? I live in Ireland and have been active in pro-life since 1992. There was no abortion here until the referendum in 2018. The pro-abortion crowd received outrageous sums to get it through from people like George Soros, etc.

    We’ll have to keep working I’m sure.

    God bless,
    Loretta O’Connor

  4. Dr. David Sponseller on November 13, 2023 at 1:39 PM

    Dear Fr. Bouquet, Fr. Paul Marx stayed at our home while speaking in Ann Arbor in the 1970’s! (I have B.S. from ND, and later taught there 3 years.) Thanks for your upbeat commentary on the evil vote in Ohio. I sent this analysis of the causes for defeat to Brian Burch of Catholic Vote.

    Thank you for your ’post-mortem’ on the disastrous election defeat in Ohio, and the very strong effort of Catholic Vote to defeat Issue 1 in Tuesday’s important election.

    You might remember my saintly wife Mary [died in 2013] from your days with Tom Monaghan. She served on his Ave Maria Foundation board for about five years in the nineties. Mary got me interested in RTL, way back in the sixties, and in 1969 we and some friends formed the county RTL group in our living room; she helped form the state group. I’ve been highly involved ever since, and have met many of the principals regarding abortion, including Bernard Nathanson, Fr. Paul Marx, Dr. James Willkie, Sandra Cano [Doe vs Bolton], Congr. Henry Hyde and Chris Smith, Monica Migliorino, John Cardinal O’Connor, Charles Rice, Jane Muldoon, Barbara Listing, Phyllis Schlafly, and others.

    I worked hard to keep abortion out of the Michigan Constitution last year [I displayed a large ‘Vote No’ sign to nearly 20,000 cars during Ann Arbor rush hours]. Because my present wife, Kathie, has a second home in Ohio I got involved in Ohio’s 8/8 and 11/7 votes regarding the abortion aamendment.

    The 57/43 margin means that we only needed to persuade one in seven ‘Yes’ voters to change their vote, or to persuade one non-voter to vote ‘No’ , for every seven actual voters…..we actually were so close! You might be interested in my analysis of the results, in descending order of importance:

    1. MONEY. Just as $420 million ‘Zuckerbucks’ alone were enough to defeat Donald Trump in 2020, this ~$12 million spending margin enabled the abortion lobby to carry the day. Their tsunami of distortions, lies, and emotional propaganda [10-year-old rape victim, etc.] on TV, radio, YouTube, etc. convinced the neutral people to seal the win. Ballotpedia.org [ Great—check it out] has shown that the side spending the most money in the last 10 referenda, nationally, won every time!

    2. Wording of petition statement and ballot statement. RTL folk can never again permit such biased wording as in Michigan [Reproductive Freedom] and Ohio, where they hid abortion among contraception, fertility treatments, miscarriage treatments, continuation of pregnancy…..items already legal…..to gain support of the uninformed. By contrast, when Michigan Proposal B in 1972 honestly stated ~”Approve abortion to 20 weeks of pregnancy”, it was resoundingly defeated, 37/63. The best thing you could do to defeat future referenda is convince RTL leaders in other states to be ‘bulldogs’ with the state ballot boards in demanding honest, non-biased wording!

    3. The collapse of our culture. The sexual revolution, the pill and contraceptive mentality [including wide disinterest in Humane Vitae by our bishops and clergy] massive internet pornography [sadly, approved 8-1 by U.S. Supreme Court about 20 years ago!] have led to many unwanted pregnancies, causing pressure for abortions. Cohabitation in U. of Michigan dorms starting in 1970, and copied by nearly all other schools, certainly contributed to this. (98 percent of U. of M. students supported Michigan’s abortion amendment one year ago.)

    4. Referenda Petitions. The very methodology of conducting citizen-initiated petition-drives nearly guarantees success for the backers. Abortionists paid firms $~9.5 million in Michigan, and $~6.5 million in Ohio to gather signatures supporting the November ballot process. In Ohio they gathered ~750,000 signatures earlier this year. You can be sure that nearly every signer got a phone call offering him/her a ride to the polls and urging a ‘Yes’ vote. Thus, the petition process itself likely provided a margin of >600,000 votes. But they only won by 511,000 votes. In other words, they were assured of victory before voting began! This is why referenda votes should require more than ‘50 percent plus one vote’ for passage. If Ohioans had raised the bar to 60 percent in August, Tuesday’s 57 percent support would have failed.

    5. Catholic Church. In early July the Ohio Catholic conference issued a statement saying “The church has no position on August 8th Issue 1 because it has no moral content”. This disappointing and shocking statement disregarded that of the architect of Issue 1, Sec. of State Frank LaRose, who asserted that Issue 1 was “100% designed to keep outsiders from jamming abortion into the Ohio Constitution.” Because of this, I sent overnight letters to all six bishops, urging their full support of Issue 1. I know the Columbus bishop responded, by his actions. But my sister in Canton hardly heard anything about Issue 1 in her church. Especially considering all the early voting, every priest should have emphasized our position on all five Sundays before the two elections. They should have urged every family to take a yard sign. They should have urged every person to convince five or 10 people to vote for RTL on both elections. This surely didn’t happen!

    6. K of C. I urged the Ohio K of C to get behind this. The Knights did contribute $1 million. I said, “They have the money, but WE have the PEOPLE!” I asked that every Knight put a sign on the roof of his car, or at least in his front yard, and knock on doors. I doubt that this happened.

    7. Media. This chart shows that, though abortion was defeated in over three-fourths of Ohio counties, abortion won in the large cities Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, Youngstown, Akron, and Dayton. The newspaper editorials in these large cities supported the pro-abortion vote, which received an average of ~72 percent “Yes” votes Tuesday in the counties where these large cities are found:

    If any one of the above factors had been stronger, or more on our side, we probably would have prevailed. If all seven had, we might have defeated the amendment by 20-30 percent. So addressing several of them strongly as the abortion post-Dodd decision ‘steamroller’ goes from state to state could keep Planned Parenthood and the other players in the satanic abortion culture from dominating in America.

    Keep up the good work at Catholic Vote!

    Best regards,


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