Here’s a shocker: A majority of Ohioans respect and revere women. Unfortunately, Republican leaders do not.

A new survey from Public Policy Polling of likely Ohio voters shows they overwhelmingly support laws that would require paid maternity leave and equal pay for equal work, and they oppose a bill that would make it illegal to abort a fetus with Downs Syndrome.

The poll was conducted Sept. 22-23.

The progressive group Progress Ohio issued a press release Monday noting that Ohio’s Republican governor and legislative majority don’t much give a damn what likely Ohio voters think on these issues, and they don’t share the desire to improve women’s economic security.

They also have added 16 new abortion restrictions in five years, the release said, and hope to expand the list by making passage of the Downs Syndrome ban a top priority in the fall legislative session.

“Fair pay, paid family leave and the ability to determine whether and when to have children are not only essential to our families’ financial health, they are popular with Ohioans,” said ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis in the release. “The majority of Ohio leaders are out of step with the majority of Ohio voters.’’

Cliff Schecter, CEO of Majority Ohio, said the show clearly shows why there’s such a state of unrest in this country.

“Ohio, perhaps the swing state closest to a 50-50 breakdown, has been forced to watch those who represent an extreme and loud minority constantly attack women’s equality and economic security,” Schecter said. “Both Ohio men and women are very much in agreement. They are clearly ready for a new, more progressive set of leaders and agenda.’’

The poll was paid for by Majority Ohio, which the release called “a non-partisan organization created to elevate women’s economic and health care issues in the presidential race.” ProgressOhio is a Majority Ohio partner, the release added.

Among the poll’s main findings:

  • Seventy-nine percent support a law that would require some form of paid maternity leave, with 63 percent strongly supportive and 16 somewhat supportive. Ten percent strongly oppose such a law, 9 percent somewhat oppose it and 2 percent had no opinion. Maternity leave enjoys its strongest support from Democrats but Republican support is substantial. Seventy-two percent of Republicans favor the idea with 48 percent strongly supportive and 24 percent somewhat supportive.
  • Seventy-four percent support “a law mandating that women receive equal pay to a man for doing the same job.” Twenty-one percent would oppose the measure, and the remaining 5 percent had no opinion. Poll results showed support from both women (81 percent) and men (66 percent).

“Fifty-two years after the Equal Pay Act was signed into law, women are still paid 79 cents for every dollar earned by men in the United States,” the release said. “It’s even worse for women of color. Black women earn 60 cents on the dollar, while Hispanic women earn 55 cents.”

  • Fifty-five percent believe a woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy if the fetus is diagnosed with Downs syndrome, with 45 percent strongly agreeing she should retain that right and 10 percent somewhat agreeing. Forty-one percent support the bill and the remaining 5 percent are not sure.
  • Fifty-three percent believe that health insurance plans should be required to cover birth control with no copay; 37 percent oppose it and 11 percent are not sure.

“Studies have shown that women’s ability to plan and space their pregnancies improves educational attainment and increases wages and lifetime earnings,” the release continued. “And children of mothers who had access to birth control have higher family incomes and college completion rates.”

Despite such strong evidence, the release said, bills to defund Planned Parenthood – Ohio’s leading provider of contraceptive services – are pending in the Ohio House and Ohio Senate, and have strong support in both chambers.

Moreover, it added, a recently introduced measure to require government offices and businesses that receive state contracts or incentives to eliminate gender pay disparities appears to have little, if any, support from majority Republican legislators.

  • Sixty-three percent would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who “wants to ban abortion in all circumstances, including to save the life of the mother.”  Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, 316 new abortion restrictions have been enacted nationwide and GOP presidential candidates are advocating additional ones.

“It’s clear that America needs a national conversation on women’s economic and health care issues,’’ Theis said. “Policymakers who say they support family values too often support anti-family policies.’’

Majority Ohio asked PPP to see if voters in the swing state of Ohio want to have that conversation. So pollsters noted that CNN hosted a forum on education and asked Ohio voters if they’d watch a forum on women’s economic and health care issues. The results: 54 percent said they would watch, 46 percent said they would not watch and the remaining 18 percent were undecided.

The poll included responses from 739 voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 percent.

D.C. DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s He is the Associate Editor of The Athens NEWS in Athens, Ohio. DeWitt can be found on Facebook and Twitter @DC_DeWitt.