Fact-checking an advertisement against Issue 1


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Political advertisers are spending big money to get their message across to Ohio voters before November's election.

Issue 1 on the upcoming ballot will determine whether the right to an abortion will be protected under Ohio's constitution.

NBC4 Investigates fact-checked an ad in support of Issue 1, paid for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, earlier this month. Less than two weeks later, Protect Women Ohio -- the main group opposing the issue -- looks to make a statement of their own.

The group debuted a 30-second message during the highly-anticipated Ohio State-Notre Dame football game Saturday in all of Ohio's media markets except Columbus.

The ad focuses on abortions during the final months of pregnancy. It begins with a clip from a 2007 episode of NBC's Meet the Press.

Host Tim Russert asked then-Senator Joe Biden, "The ban on partial birth abortions or late-term abortions -- you supported that ban."

"I did, and I do," replied Biden, who at the time was actively campaigning to become the Democratic nominee for President in 2008.

During his time in the U.S. Senate, Biden voted in favor of two bills banning abortions during the later stages of pregnancy: once in 1995 and again in 2003.

As President, more than a decade after that Meet the Press interview, Biden has voiced support for safe and legal abortion access and even signed an executive order in 2022 affirming that support. However, President Biden has largely avoided references to how far into a pregnancy that access should be allowed.

"Late-term abortions were too much for Biden," a narrator continues in the ad. "But if Issue 1 passes…"

The narrator pauses to allow a soundbite from former President Donald Trump finish the sentence.

"In the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother," Trump said, in a clip from a 2016 presidential debate.

Trump has repeatedly used this language both as a candidate and as president to describe late-term abortions. It is illegal in the United States to deliver a live baby and take their life.

The amendment that will be added to Ohio's constitution if Issue 1 passes reads:

"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."

Amy Natoce, the press secretary for Protect Women Ohio, said the group believes the word "health" can be broadly interpreted.

"At is widely known that 'health' includes more than a woman's physical health, and can include things even like her finances and her emotional health. So that is a huge loophole in this amendment that would allow for no limits abortion," Natoce said.

Dr. Marcela Azevedo, President of Ohioans Physicians for Reproductive Rights called the ad "misleading" in a statement.

When asked about the interpretation of the word "health," a spokesman Gabriel Mann for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights replied, "Ohioans trust their physicians to make the best determinations about their health. Politics should play no role in that determination."

The Protect Women Ohio ad also displays a graphic that says, "80% said that about the third trimester," referencing broad, bipartisan disapproval for abortions during the final trimester of pregnancy.

A Gallup poll published in July shows about 8 in 10 Americans believe abortion should be illegal in the third trimester. The same poll found about 7 in 10 believe abortion should be legal during the first trimester.

Abortion is currently legal in Ohio up to 22 weeks, unless the Ohio Supreme Court decides whether or not a more restrictive law passed in 2019 is constitutional. Oral arguments in the case are set for Wednesday.

The law, which was placed on hold in 2022 by a lower court, prohibits abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy. It contains an exception to allow the procedure to prevent the death or serious and permanent health complications of the pregnant patient.


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