After the fall of Roe, which had invented a federal “right” to abortion in the Constitution, abortion was returned to individual states and their elected representatives, changing the nature of the struggle between the pro-life movement and the abortion industry. Pro-abortion organizations and activists, backed by the affiliates of large left-wing organizations like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), have stealthily turned to ballot measures in the hopes of shoring up and even growing the abortion complex in the shift from federal to state power.
And so far, their plan is working — every single abortion-related ballot measure since the fall of Roe has been successful. During the 2022 special elections, Kansans rejected a ballot measure that would have established that the state constitution does not include a right to abortion. During the 2022 midterms, voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont codified abortion into their constitutions. At the same time, voters in Montana rejected a ballot measure that would have given rights to babies born alive in botched abortions. Voters in Kentucky also rejected an amendment similar to the one in Kansas.
Ballot measures are particularly effective as an offensive weapon because they are basically irreversible: they change a state constitution, take precedence over laws passed by state legislatures, and can only be overturned by another ballot measure.
Ohio voters passed Issue 1! 🎉 Reproductive freedom is protected for all current and future generations of Ohioans! Thank you for safeguarding the right to make decisions that are best for our health, our lives, and our futures. https://t.co/DXtnLuhCpN
— Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (@PPGreaterOH) November 8, 2023
These measures are propped up by national left-wing organizations with deep pockets, out-of-state dark money groups, and billionaires with eugenicist leanings, often times outspending pro-life organizations by double or triple. For example, in Ohio, campaign filings from Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights show they brought in nearly $29 million from donors since Sept. 8. Meanwhile, pro-life groups rallying against the measure raised just under $10 million in the same period.
These multi-million-dollar campaigns are carefully crafted, ignoring bigger ethical questions and gruesome details about what abortion really is, and instead pitching amendments as a means of codifying “freedom” and creating a bulwark against government overreach. The ballot measures are also often broadly worded, leaving voters confused about just how far-reaching they may be.
Pro-abortion groups pushing the Ohio amendment dumped significant sums into framing a “yes” vote on Issue 1 as a vote for “freedom,” and invoked conservative imagery, opposition to government overreach, and mentions of “faith” and “family” to convince Ohioans to support the killing of the unborn. Pro-abortion groups successfully employed a similar strategy in the 2022 midterms, when abortion was on the ballot in states like Kansas and Michigan. The pro-abortion groups pushing these amendments also capitalize off of fear, telling women lies such as they will not be able to access miscarriage care if pro-life laws are passed.
Emboldened by their success with amendments, pro-abortion activists are seeking to introduce ballot measures in several other states going into 2024, so far including Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, and South Dakota.
In the aftermath of 2022 and now Ohio, pro-life organizations say they are reevaluating how they want to tackle the issue moving forward — especially as they gear up to face a tsunami of ballot measures in 2024. These organizations, which cut their teeth for 50 years while working toward the overturn of Roe, are ultimately faced with the challenge of becoming as strategic and well-funded as their opponents, while refusing to compromise on the view that human life begins at conception and is worthy of protection until natural death.
“The pro-life movement must adapt to win. We have to throw out the old playbook and dive headfirst into a strategy that can win the hearts and minds of the American people and translate into electoral victory,” founder and president of Live Action Lila Rose said in a statement via email following the loss in Ohio. “That strategy starts with fully embracing and educating on the truth. Human life is valuable and must be legally protected. Human life begins at fertilization. Abortion is a murderous act of violence. Embracing the truth with courage is the first step towards the next political victory.”
“It is a tragedy that the people of Ohio, and the many states before and to follow them, were asked to vote on the legality of discriminately killing a class of persons based on their age,” Rose noted:
This is a class of persons, our youngest children, who have no vote and cannot advocate for themselves. When, and under what conditions, should the rule of the majority be curtailed to protect the rights of the minority? The first and most obvious answer is to protect the most fundamental human rights of the minority, most importantly, the right to life.
Rose contended that “truth will ultimately prevail” because “truth always trumps temporary political victories.”
What is the truth? Human life begins at the moment of fertilization. Abortion is an act of homicidal violence that kills a living human person. A civilized nation prohibits homicide and should, of course, prohibit abortion. A bedrock of our legal system is the equal protection of our laws for every person, regardless of race, age, location, or social status. That guarantee of equal protection is enshrined in our Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. It is anathemic to vote on the basic human rights of defenseless, unpopular minorities — especially children. In the United States today, preborn children may be the most unpopular minority.
Lessons to learn from the loss in Ohio tonight —
Money matters: Pro-abort outspent pro-life by $12M+
Media matters: Constant pro-abort ads bombarded Ohioans
Words matters: The pro-abort wording of Issue 1 was deceptive & confusing
Party support matters: Dem party put the $$…
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) November 8, 2023
Leading pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America also released a statement via email in the Ohio aftermath, saying that “there have been many valuable lessons learned from Issue 1.”
“Moving forward in states where abortion will be on the ballot in 2024, pro-life, pro-woman coalitions will need to devote more resources to compassionate pro-life messages for women and their children, combatting the campaign of fear from the other side,” the group wrote.
In OH, pro-abortion forces outspent pro-life forces by 2:1 in a campaign centered on lies & deception.
— SBA Pro-Life America (@sbaprolife) November 9, 2023
Students for Life Action president Kristan Hawkins noted via email that the pro-life movement is “in a marathon, not a sprint.”
“Making a case for LIFE on the human rights issue of our day – abortion – will not be finished in a single election cycle,” Hawkins said.
“In Ohio, and really everywhere in the country, abortion profiteers first sell women short, and then they sell them an abortion. Those making billions by selling abortion used fear to undercut women and to convince them that they are not enough,” she continued. “Our work remains the same: Create a safety net for women and their children, born and preborn, and Build a framework for legal protections for women and preborn children.”
So in Ohio you can now kill a baby up until the moment of birth for any reason and then smoke weed to try to erase your pain.
— Kristan Hawkins (@KristanHawkins) November 8, 2023
“Ballot initiatives are tricky and clearly, we have work to do in educating voters on the human rights issue of our day – abortion — but the same pro-life movement that worked almost 50 years to undo the wrongs of Roe v. Wade will not be discouraged. Win or lose, our work continues,” she added.
Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on X @thekat_hamilton.