We know that abortion is a winning electoral issue, but anti-abortion groups and lawmakers continue to take all the wrong lessons from every election post-Dobbs. Despite overwhelming support for reproductive freedom, at every turn opponents have worked to undermine the will of the voters. They’re using increasingly outrageous methods to advance their unpopular agendas. Here are some examples:
- In Ohio, lawmakers are ignoring voters and backing a measure that would effectively neutralize the state’s new voter-approved Reproductive Rights Amendment (Issue 1). Their proposal would strip the Ohio courts of the power to rule on cases related to abortion and keep those decisions solely in the hands of the legislature. Reminder: that legislature has voted repeatedly to ban abortion and weaken direct democracy. Now, they’re using fear-mongering and misrepresentations about Issue 1 to justify their willful disregard of the will of voters and yet another attack on Ohioans’ reproductive freedom. It remains to be seen what other bills to undermine Issue 1 will be introduced during the state session, but legal experts have already deemed this kind of brazen power grab unconstitutional, “symbolic and performative,” while the House Speaker has already dismissed the proposal.
Given the state-coordinated disinformation campaign we saw ahead of the vote, this latest tactic comes as no surprise. As Lauren Blauvelt, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, told MSNBC, “[I’m] not surprised that our representatives are not listening to their constituents. That’s what got us here in the first place… We will absolutely keep fighting.”
- In Michigan, a coalition of anti-abortion rights groups has filed a meritless lawsuit in federal court challenging Michigan’s Reproductive Freedom Amendment (2022’s Proposition 3). The measure, which was overwhelmingly passed last November, enshrined a right to abortion and other reproductive health care in Michigan’s state constitution. This is a ridiculous attempt to undermine the people’s voice and vote. As Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan president and CEO Paula Thornton Greear explained, “This baseless lawsuit is nothing but a brazen political attempt to overturn the will of the people and impose dangerous anti-abortion policies on an electorate that doesn’t want them.”
- And in Kansas, despite the defeat of a measure to eliminate any right to abortion in the state constitution last year, lawmakers introduced 20 anti-abortion measures in 2023, including bills to outright ban abortion and boost funding for harmful anti-abortion fake clinics. As Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ Anamarie Rebori Simmons said of the last session’s proposed abortion ban, “It’s the ‘Twilight Zone’ in Kansas. Except now, it’s not a question of conservative lawmakers ‘forgetting’ how democracy works, it’s that they’re intentionally and continually subverting the will of the voters.”
With pro-abortion rights ballot measures poised to be on the ballot in up to eight states next November, there’s no doubt opponents will do everything to undermine the process before the vote — as we saw in Ohio — and undermine the voters after measures are approved.
Abortion may be the current target but these anti-democratic tactics represent threats that extend far beyond reproductive freedom. Their efforts will fail: voters will not stand for anti-democratic attacks and continue making their voices heard at the ballot box and beyond.
To learn more about this dangerous trend and abortion rights on the state level, please reach out to [email protected].
Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational, advocacy, and limited electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.