Anti-abortion group Protect Women Ohio is spending $5 million on new ad campaign

Ad campaign comes days after the Ohio Ballot Board verified a proposed amendment for the November ballot that could put abortion in the Ohio Constitution

By: - March 16, 2023 4:55 am

Voters casting ballots. | Mario Tama/Getty Images

An anti-abortion group is spending $5 million on a new ad campaign as abortion supporters are trying to get signatures for a proposed amendment on the ballot that would put abortion rights in the Ohio Constitution

Protect Women Ohio, a dark money 501(c)(4) organization founded in February, was created to fight the abortion ballot campaign. Protect Ohio Women is a coalition made up of several organizations including Ohio Right to Life, Center for Christian Virtue and Right to Life Action Coalition of Ohio. 

PWO released their first ad Wednesday and plans to spend $5 million on advertising over the next four weeks “for this first phase of its effort to defeat the amendment,” according to the release. 

The proposed amendment says that “every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care and abortion.

The amendment goes on to say that abortion may be prohibited after fetal viability, “but in no case may such an abortion be prohibited if in the professional judgment of the pregnant patient’s treating physician it is necessary to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

The Ohio Ballot Board gave the proposed amendment for the November ballot the green light to gather signatures on Monday. The proposal has also been certified by the Ohio Attorney General, so groups trying to get the measure on the ballot can proceed with collecting the more than 400,000 valid signatures needed to officially get the measure to statewide voters.

The ad against the proposal shows a young woman and a female narrator saying “your daughter is young, vulnerable, online. You fear the worst. Pushed to change her sex or to get an abortion. You have some right to help her through but activists want to take all of that away. … Meaning you could be cut out of the biggest decision of her life.” 

State Rep. Gary Click, R-Vickery, re-introduced a bill at the end of February that would limit health care for LGBTQ+ youth and require hospitals to deny gender reassignment surgery and hormone blockers to minors.

“Moms and dads will be cut out of the most important and life-altering decisions of their child’s life, if this passes,” said Protect Women Ohio Board Member Molly Smith. “This extreme amendment eliminates any current or future protections for minors requiring parents be notified and consent before their child undergoes a procedure like an abortion or sex change surgery.”

Dr. Lauren Beene, executive director Ohio Physicians for Reproductive Rights, said the ad is false. 

“There is absolutely nothing in the amendment that mentions or supersedes Ohio’s parental consent laws,” Beene said in a statement. “Their intentionally deceptive ad is the beginning of a multi-million-dollar disinformation campaign designed to raise unsubstantiated fears and distract from the fact that the amendment will ensure Ohioans have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, including abortion, and preserve the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship.”

Kellie Copeland, executive director of Pro-Choice Ohio, said “anti-abortion extremists are spreading lies.” 

“Ohioans everywhere are standing up to say that everyone should have the freedom to make their own health care decisions,” Copeland said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more confident this grassroots movement will get this amendment on the ballot and win in November.” 



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Megan Henry
Megan Henry

Megan Henry is a reporter for the Ohio Capital Journal and has spent the past five years reporting in Ohio on various topics including education, healthcare, business and crime. She previously worked at The Columbus Dispatch, part of the USA Today Network.