Ohio University’s Student Senate organized a debate regarding Issue 1 at Baker University Center on Monday evening, providing a platform for supporters and opponents of the issue to express their views.
According to the Secretary of State’s office, if passed, Issue 1 would make reproductive medical treatments, including abortion, a constitutional right.
The Student Senate’s Governmental Affairs Commission organized and oversaw the debate, with members of the Senate arguing both sides.
Dan Gordillo, governmental affairs commissioner, discussed the reasoning behind hosting the event and emphasized how Issue 1 is a highly debated topic that voters believe is a crucial issue on the ballot.
“We specifically chose this to debate about as it is very hotly contested. It is the issue that pretty much everybody's talking about," Gordillo said. “This idea came to fruition as multiple members of my constituents asked me about this, so I decided to step forward as a nonpartisan organization to host.”
The event had a turnout of approximately 50 people.
Attendees brought a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives to the debate. Some students attended to share their views on Issue 1, having already taken a stance on the matter, while others came to develop a more well-rounded perspective on the issue.
“I certainly think a lot of the things that were said tonight prompted me to go do some more research on my own,” Student Senate Treasurer Regan Farmer said.
Farmer stressed the importance of attending events such as the debate with an open mind to understand the perspectives of different groups within the community and engage in discussion.
The Governmental Affairs Commission prepared questions in advance and asked questions submitted by the students in attendance through a form created by Senate.
The debate began with each side presenting their arguments, followed by a rebuttal period. The questions consisted of topics such as postnatal care, the federal or state decision-making authority, fetal viability and parental consent.
When asked about parental consent, those against Issue 1 voiced concerns about the coercion of minors into undergoing an abortion, emphasizing the parental right to be informed about their child’s medical decisions.
“Parents have a right to know what is happening to their children, as mature caretakers are better able to consider the long-term implications of this decision and carefully weigh the risks,” Olivia Barnes, a sophomore studying business administration and a speaker at the debate, said. “The nullification of parental consent is a real concern, and one of the many reasons that Issue 1 is bad for Ohio.”
The supporters of Issue 1 disagreed with this belief, expressing the fear of negative parental reactions if their child were to want an abortion.
However, both sides agreed on the concept of postnatal care. They shared the belief that postnatal care is crucial and that every mother should be provided with proper care after birth to support them in caring for their child.
“I'd have to say supportive services could not be emphasized enough,” Barnes said. “The mother deserves all the support that she can get.”
Students who had attended the debate expressed their personal opinions on the issue, providing further perspectives and insights.
Avery Barker, an attendee of the debate, expressed her pro-life stance, saying that abortion was a violation of human rights.
“My stance is pro-life because I believe that abortion is murder, regardless of the age of the fetus, and I don't think that it is right, ” Barker said.
Some voters support the right of individuals to make choices about their pregnancies, emphasizing personal autonomy and individual values.
“Abortion is a complex matter and a federal perspective provides the best means to address it in a way that respects individual rights, safety and equality for all,” Faith Merkle, a senior studying public health, said.
The debate ended after an hour, and everyone was encouraged to cast their votes in the Nov. 7 election.
Senate also offered informational papers about Issue 2, which will also appear on the upcoming ballot and address the legalization of recreational marijuana use. They also gave an environmental voter guide containing information on Athens mayoral candidates, Incumbent Mayor Steve Patterson and Damon Krane, and their environmental plans.
“Civic duty overall is just an incredibly important topic, especially for college students. There are issues on the ballot this election cycle that affect everyone,” Farmer said. “It's incredibly important to be a well-informed voter and gather as much information as possible before you vote.”