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August 10, 2023

Ohio’s Abortion Warning

Republicans find that the message of personal responsibility is harder to sell than Democrats yelling “rights” and “free stuff.”

The Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling last year was one of the greatest judicial victories in our nation’s history. But Republicans weren’t ready for the political battle to follow.

That was evident in Ohio Tuesday. Why is that?

Well, as is often the case in American politics, Democrats have a far easier message to bring to voters. “We want to give you stuff and make the other guy pay for it.” Or, as with the subject of this analysis, “We want abortion rights for everyone.” (Read the fine print, and it’ll say “for any and every reason all the way up until birth,” which is true in only seven nations in the world, including China, North Korea, and Vietnam.)

By contrast, Republicans have to explain why personal responsibility works with individual liberty to make for a successful and free Republic. They have to communicate that abortion means taking a life, even if that life was one of the tiny few conceived via a rape or one of many pregnancies that are inconvenient for the mother or simply unwanted by either parent.

And then there’s the fact that Democrats walk in lockstep while Republicans are more akin to a herd of cats.

“Progressives” start every cultural battle, move the goalposts further left, and then rally around the newest, hottest, “right side of history” prize. Republicans are then torn between fighting to conserve what makes logical sense or offering some sort of compromise, if they do anything at all. The disunity compounds the problem. “OK, some of us think abortion is taking a life, but how about we limit it to six weeks? Or 15 weeks? Or a heartbeat? Or viability? Or with a short list of exceptions?”

That’s a far more complicated argument to make.

It was no surprise, then, to see the pro-life side suffer yet another defeat this week. On Tuesday, Ohio voters rejected Issue 1, a constitutional amendment to set a threshold of 60% support for any further constitutional amendments. Seems like a no-brainer given our national Constitution’s even higher threshold for amendment.

Yet because pro-abortion zealots turned it into a proxy for “reproductive rights,” and then outspent pro-lifers roughly 10-1, they were able to rally voters to defeat Issue 1 by a 57-43 margin. That means when Ohio voters consider the Democrats’ abortion amendment this November, it’ll likely pass. “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions,” says their amendment. Viability can be a line for prohibition, but not if a doctor decides abortion is needed “to protect the pregnant patient’s life or health.” That’s an exception wide enough for a Planned Parenthood building.

“Direct democracy does not always produce good outcomes,” opined the editorial board of The Washington Post. That’s most certainly true, except the Post’s editors were talking about Ohio’s 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage the way it always was in American history: a union between one man and one woman. Or, as they put it, a “same-sex marriage ban.”

Sadly, however, and disagreeable euphemisms notwithstanding, the Post is right about this:

On abortion, every time voters have been given the choice, they have opted to maintain abortion access — in red states (Kansas and Kentucky), purple states (Michigan) and blue states (California and Vermont). Questions of reproductive freedom defined a Wisconsin Supreme Court judicial election this year, boosting a liberal candidate who tilted the balance of power on the court.

That brings us back to our assertion up top about how Democrats always take what sounds like the easier argument. Each time they win a victory by appealing to the worst in humanity, they take courage for more bold moves to the left. They’ll do so again with abortion in 2024, hoping it works as well as it did in 2022.

Personal responsibility is hard. Taking responsibility for the separate human life growing inside a woman’s womb is hard for that woman. Hard things are often also right and very worthwhile things. They’re just really hard to sell politically to people who prefer what they think is the easy way out. That just means pro-lifers need to redouble our efforts to change hearts and minds.

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