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Religious perspectives in Ohio on Issue 1 vary by faith, denominations

Interfaith leaders with Faith in Public Life rally for Issue 1 in front of Woodland Christian Church.
Sarah Donaldson
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Interfaith leaders with Faith in Public Life rally for Issue 1 in front of Woodland Christian Church.

The money on both sides of Issue 1, the abortion and reproductive rights amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot, is big: the "yes" side has raised around $39 million so far, while the "no" side has brought in around $27 million.

Campaign finance filings have shown the largest in-state donations to Protect Women Ohio, the anti-Issue 1 coalition, have come from the state’s Catholic dioceses in Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Religious perspectives on abortion, however, are far from one size fits all. In the final days of early voting, Ohioans are turning out to decide on numerous races and issues—including on the statewide proposed amendment that would codify abortion and other reproductive rights in the Ohio Constitution.

Several Methodist, non-denominational and Jewish leaders used song and word Thursday afternoon to lay out their case for Issue 1 during a rally in front of Woodland Christian Church.

United Methodist minister Rev. Laura Young, who had an abortion in her 20s, said faithful Ohioans do not all agree on abortion. “Not even within our own faiths and denominations,” Young said.

But she and the other leaders in attendance, like Rev. Eric Brown of Woodland, urged Ohioans to vote yes on Issue 1. They called the state’s six-week ban on abortion procedures for any purpose “extreme.”

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine signed that law in 2019, and it briefly took effect after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned landmark Roe v. Wade in summer 2022. The ban has been on hold, in legal limbo, for over a year—but it could go back into effect if voters ultimately reject Issue 1.

“By the way, God understands when people have to make difficult decisions. Even if God disagrees with the decision that was made, the God I serve doesn't condemn the person for the decision made,” Brown said.

In recent days, DeWine has said a “no” vote on Issue 1 would allow him and the Ohio legislature to loosen restrictions from the existing ban, such as adding exemptions for cases of rape or incest. But Brown was critical of that election season promise.

“If Issue 1 fails, Gov. DeWine, a lot of pregnant women can't afford to wait four years for you to finally consider what you did to women when you signed that restrictive abortion ban,” he said.

Interfaith religious leaders bow their head in prayer, prior to a rally for Issue 1 on Nov. 2, 2023.
Sarah Donaldson
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Interfaith religious leaders bow their head in prayer, prior to a rally for Issue 1 on Nov. 2, 2023.

Among Christians, the strongest opposition to Issue 1 has come from Catholic and evangelical denominations.

Churches and synagogues are often polling places on election day. While houses of worship can't weigh in on candidates, those entities can support or oppose issues and can display signs on their property.

Early voting at county boards of elections ends Sunday at 5 p.m., with polls opening Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and closing at 7:30 p.m. The early voting schedule can be found here.

Sarah Donaldson covers government, policy, politics and elections for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. Contact her at sdonaldson@statehousenews.org.