Ohio conservatives join Wisconsin and Michigan in seeking ways to overturn what voters said about abortion rights

Ohio Issue 1 crowd

Supporters of Issue 1 cheer at a watch party, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023, in Columbus Ohio. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

By Pat Kreitlow

November 15, 2023

Despite overwhelming public support to protect women’s healthcare rights, extremists in three states are seeking ways to undermine democracy.

Voters in three Midwestern states have shown substantial support to protect abortion rights recently, but that’s not stopping anti-choice activists from taking extreme measures to overturn the will of the voters. They include threats to impeach a newly-elected justice in Wisconsin, an effort to prevent Ohio courts from interpreting abortion laws, and a federal lawsuit in Michigan asking a constitutional amendment to be thrown out.

Last week, 56 percent of voters in Republican-controlled Ohio gave support to a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights. Conservatives immediately announced an unusual effort to have the Ohio Legislature remove jurisdiction from the judicial branch and declare that only legislators have the power to consider what, if any, changes to make to existing abortion law—despite how voters just amended the state constitution.

Dr. Amy Burkett, an Akron obstetrician-gynecologist and past president of the Ohio chapter of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), told UpNorthNews Radio that the ongoing fight to protect her patients’ rights was made a little less burdensome in seeing the voters’ mandate.

“I’m just so proud and honored that Ohio stood up, stood with the doctors and said ‘no, we are not going to let you take away our reproductive rights,’” Burkett said. 

Right wing groups and legislators in Michigan filed a federal lawsuit last week, asking a court to throw out last year’s constitutional amendment, supported by 56 percent of statewide voters.

Abortion rights were not on the ballot explicitly in Wisconsin earlier this year, but then-candidate Janet Protasiewicz campaigned by expressing strong support for abortion rights and won 55 percent of the vote in defeating a conservative former justice. Before Protasiewicz could be sworn into office or hear her first case, Republican legislators were talking openly of impeaching her because of her stated values.

”For as much as Republicans like to talk about freedom,” said Dr. Kristin Lyerly, a Wisconsin obstetrician-gynecologist, “they have clearly been actively working to take away our freedoms here in Wisconsin for years.” 

Ohio had been the seventh state to hold a statewide referendum on abortion rights—and it became the seventh where voters moved to affirm or restore protections repealed last year by the US Supreme Court in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Voters supported abortion rights in other key elections last week—including Pennsylvania, where a state Supreme Court candidate won on a platform supporting abortion rights, and Virginia, where voters rejected Republican promises of passing an abortion ban by giving Democrats control of both houses of their legislature.

Burkett said the results are proof that the post-Dobbs momentum by Americans to protect what should be private healthcare rights is not diminishing and will still be strong in 2024 elections when Republican legislators will face challenges even in districts that used to be regarded as safe.

“People said we used to not vote on [abortion rights],” Burkett said. “But it’s very clear if we don’t, we’re going to lose it and we’re not going to have that anymore.”


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.


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