Ohio Voters Defeat Reaction in the Abortion Referendum

After more than a century, the state of Ohio has caught up to the Soviet Union. On November 7, over two million Ohio residents voted “yes” on measure one, forcing the state government to protect abortion rights. In addition, measure two was passed, legalizing recreational marijuana consumption. While the class dynamics around the legalization of pot are complex, the success of these measures, which won 57% and 56% of the vote respectively, shows the general direction the working class is leaning.

Yet there is no time for idle celebration: our task is to analyze this victory, and infer from it what we can about the growing consciousness of the American masses, and the heightening contradictions of  bourgeois “democracy.”

After more than a century, Ohio has finally caught up to the Soviet Union on abortion rights. / Image: Public Domain

The leadup

The results did not come as a surprise. This triumph is only the latest in a string of victories at the polls. Since the overturning of Roe v Wade, every referendum on the issue, in California, Michigan, Vermont, and even the “red states” of Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana has decisively shut down attempts to restrict the right to abortion. States that have banned abortion, like Texas and Alabama, still haven’t dared to put the issue to a referendum.

The “pro-life” Ohio Republicans, who, in reality, are almost as anti-life as they are anti-choice, were wary of the majority. As the November deadline approached, Representative Brian Stewart sponsored a motion to increase the amendment threshold to a ludicrous 60% of the vote. To pass this blatantly undemocratic measure, he only needed 50% of the vote in a surprise one-issue August referendum.

These slimy tactics betray the true nature of abortion restrictions. They are not, as reactionaries claim, in service of a “moral principle.”  These measures are an infringement on a fundamental democratic right: autonomy over one’s body. And of course, abortion remains legal for the wealthy who can pay for access. No matter what the law books say, they can always afford a private procedure or a brief trip abroad. The vast majority of Americans don’t have that luxury.

In the August referendum, the truth of the abortion question stood barefaced before the world. It was a struggle between the democratic rights of the masses and the wandering hands of the bourgeois state. The former emerged victorious, with the “no” votes rejecting Representative Stewart’s maneuver.

Brian Stewart Ohio
As the November deadline approached, Representative Brian Stewart sponsored a motion to increase the amendment threshold to a ludicrous 60% of the vote. / Image: Ohio House of Representatives

Humiliation for the Republicans

The results of the November referendum were equally decisive. 57% voted “yes” across Ohio, including nine counties that, just three years ago, voted for Trump in the general election. For decades, Ohio has been viewed as a “red-leaning” state, a reliable domain for Republicans. In both 2016 and 2020, the state’s electoral votes went to Donald Trump. Currently, Republicans hold 26 of the state senate’s 33 seats. Yet their attempts to attack abortion have failed twice in a row.

Once again, the “Grand Old Party” has proven itself impotent in its “own” territory. Despite all of their demagoguery, it is clear that they don’t have the majority behind them, even in “real” America.

Humiliation for the Democrats

If this referendum was a shame upon the Republicans, it was doubly so for the Democrats.  Despite pretending to be defenders of abortion rights, they spent decades doing nothing to enshrine Roe into law. Hated by millions of workers for being the party of Wall Street, Democrats have long blamed their inadequacies on the “political apathy” of young adults and the backwardness of “deplorable” Republicans. And yet, across America, millions of working-class Americans are voting to keep abortion legal. These votes should be understood as a defensive measure by the workers to protect their class interests, despite the Democrats.

For the Democratic Party establishment, the abortion issue is another battleground in their cynical “culture war”—a “war” they have no interest in actually fighting. They pay lip service to it because it is politically convenient, but their disagreements with the Republicans amount to little more than a “good cop, bad cop” routine. Biden has refused to take decisive action to protect abortion—unsurprising from a man who once boasted of voting against abortion rights “on no fewer than 50 occasions.” And Democrat Joe Manchin continually votes against protecting abortion rights.

Now more than ever, we need a mass communist party to push forward an uncompromising working-class program. / Image: Socialist Revolution

Opportunity for the communists

The property party and its two right wings have no appeal for millions of American workers. There is tremendous political energy percolating in the proletariat across the nation. In “red” and “blue” states alike, people are desperate for a real change. Yet there exists no mass party to harness and express this enthusiasm. Now more than ever, we need a mass political party to push forward an uncompromising working-class program for everything in our lives, including abortion. Only when fully legalized and integrated into a socialized healthcare system will reproductive services including abortion be available to everyone who needs them, not just the wealthy. This is the party that Socialist Revolution is helping to build.

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