Ohio abortion supporters outraise pro-life side 3 to 1 ahead of November referendum

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Supporters of the effort to enshrine a right to abortion in the Ohio Constitution outraised their pro-life opponents by a margin of nearly 3 to 1 in recent months, mostly with out-of-state funds by large donors, according to financial filings.

According to campaign filings released in late October, which tallied donations from Sept. 8 onward, Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights received about $28.7 million in total contributions. The pro-life campaign Protect Women Ohio only received about $9.9 million

One of the pro-abortion side’s largest contributors was the Washington, D.C.-based Sixteen Thirty Fund, which contributed more than $3.3 million. The Fairness Project, which receives grants from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, donated another $2 million. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $1 million to the pro-abortion campaign.

Another large donor was the New York-based Open Society Policy Center, which donated about $3.5 million. This group is associated with billionaire George Soros. The Tides Foundation, which is also associated with Soros, donated nearly $1.5 million. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, along with its foundation and state affiliates, donated about $2.8 million. Planned Parenthood and its local affiliates donated more than $1.8 million. The largest individual person that contributed was Lynn Schusterman, an Oklahoma-based billionaire philanthropist, who donated about $2.5 million. 

More than $2.2 million came from the pro-abortion campaign’s committee, the Ohioans for Reproductive Freedom PAC, which is associated with several pro-abortion organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. 

Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights did not respond to a request from CNA for comment. 

Amy Natoce, the press secretary for Protect Women Ohio, told CNA that “it’s no surprise the ACLU is dumping millions of dollars into Ohio to cement its radical anti-parent amendment in our constitution.”

“The ‘yes’ side is spending unlimited funds to spread misinformation and fear about contraception and miscarriage care in Ohio, while failing to mention Issue 1 will eviscerate parents’ rights and permit painful, late-term abortion,” Natoce said. 

Natoce added that “whether voters are pro-choice, pro-life, or somewhere in between, Issue 1 just goes too far and is too radical for Ohioans.”

The bulk of Protect Women Ohio’s funding since Sept. 8 came directly from its committee, Protect Women Ohio Action Inc., which is a coalition of pro-life organizations, including the Washington, D.C.-based Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The committee donated about $7.7 million, which was more than three-quarters of the campaign’s donations. 

The two other two large donors are both associated with the Catholic Church: $1 million from the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, and $300,000 from the Diocese of Columbus, Ohio.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7, but early voting has already begun. Voting yes on Issue 1 would amend the Ohio Constitution to add a new right to “reproductive freedom,” which includes “abortion” and “contraception,” among other things. Voting no on Issue 1 would prevent this language from being added to the constitution.

Although the language allows for some restrictions on abortion after “viability,” which normally occurs around 24 weeks of pregnancy, many pro-life organizations have warned that the ambiguous language of the measure could allow abortion up until birth and remove parental consent and notification rules for minors getting abortions.

Recent polls have shown popular support for the abortion amendment by double-digit margins.  An early October Baldwin Wallace University Ohio Pulse Poll found that more than 58% of registered voters support the amendment and only a little more than one-third oppose it, showing about a 25-point margin in favor of the amendment. 

A late mid-October Ohio University Poll, meanwhile, found that 52% of registered voters supported the amendment and 36% were against, which was about a 16-point margin in favor of the amendment.

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