Ohio’s referendum on abortion rights drew support from both liberal and conservative areas of the state and won outright in 18 counties that President Donald J. Trump won in 2020, signaling the issue remains a weakness for Republicans.
These 18 counties, a mix of urban, suburban and rural communities, joined the seven mostly urban counties that voted for Joseph R. Biden Jr. in 2020 to support a constitutional amendment to protect “reproductive decisions,” including abortions.
Across the state, the margin of support for abortion rights was stronger than the margin of support for Mr. Biden three years ago. Among the Trump counties that voted for the amendment, the abortion rights vote was stronger where Mr. Trump won by smaller margins.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last year, Americans voting on abortion through ballot proposals have chosen to support abortion rights every time, even in red states.
Ohio joins California, Michigan and Vermont, which amended their constitutions to protect abortion rights in the midterm elections. But Ohio is the first Republican-run state where voters have chosen to enshrine the right in their Constitution, bucking the governor and many legislators who worked for months to defeat the effort.
In three other red states — Kansas, Kentucky and Montana — voters last year rejected ballot measures that were intended to limit abortion access.
Across these seven states, Biden counties have overwhelmingly and unsurprisingly voted in favor of abortion rights, while most Trump counties have not. But voters in dozens of the counties that Mr. Trump won have helped tip the scales in each of these elections, giving abortion rights advocates increasing hope that ballot measures are a winning strategy for protecting abortion access.
Maryland and New York will have proposals favoring abortion rights on their ballots in November 2024, and advocates in at least seven other states, including Arizona and Florida, are working on similar measures. Anti-abortion advocates in Iowa and Pennsylvania are working on proposals that would declare there is no constitutional right to abortion.
Ohio’s constitutional protection for abortion is expected to invalidate a pending ban on the procedure at about six weeks of pregnancy, preserving access in the state for residents, as well as those traveling from Midwestern and Southern states where abortion is banned.