Ohio's rejection of Issue 1 shows how toxic abortion has become for the GOP
Turns out even folks in red and purple states don't like to have their rights taken away.
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Also in this edition from Aaron:
— Thoughts on Trump’s remarkably crude New Hampshire speech
— House Republican’s disastrous Fox News hit
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By Noah Berlatsky
For decades, the right argued that Roe v. Wade was an assault on democracy because it removed abortion rights from the democratic process and turned the US into a juristocracy. Since Dobbs robbed women and pregnant people of bodily autonomy, though, the GOP has not been acting like a party which is confident it can win the support of voters for its draconian forced birth policies.
On the contrary, Republicans have repeatedly shown that their abortion agenda and authoritarian agenda are one and the same. And this week’s sweeping pro-choice victory in red Ohio shows once again that voters find both of those linked agendas repulsive.
You can’t protect abortion rights if you can’t vote for them
The GOP has slowly, reluctantly realized that its anti-abortion position is incredibly unpopular. A normal political party would respond to that by moderating. But not the GOP. It has responded, in its usual way, by trying to destroy democracy.
Numerous GOP state legislatures, including those in Florida, Arizona, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota, have anticipated referenda strengthening abortion rights by trying to make it harder to pass ballot initiatives. Republicans in Ohio followed that playbook, but it backfired in spectacular fashion.
Currently in Ohio, you need a simple majority to pass a ballot initiative. Abortion rights advocates have gotten one such initiative on the ballot for November; it would enshrine abortion rights in the constitution of a state where Republicans are currently pushing restrictions.
Republicans don’t want to let voters protect their own abortion rights. So, to prevent the abortion rights initiative from passing, they rushed for a vote on their own referendum, called Issue 1. Issue 1, had it been approved, would have raised the threshold for ballot initiatives to 60 percent. It also required petitioners to get ballot signatures from every Ohio county, effectively increasing the power of rural low-population areas dominated by more conservative voters.
The GOP was aware that asking voters to undermine their own influence was a hard sell. So they tried to rig the odds.
Ohio in 2021 did away with August special elections; the legislature argued they were too costly, and that turnout for such elections was extremely low. But for Republicans, whose voters have traditionally been older, wealthier, and more likely to vote, a low-turnout election can be an advantage. Legislators therefore reversed themselves. They hoped that with most voters disengaged, the anti-abortion measure could slip through, kneecapping the November ballot initiative and forcing abortion restrictions on an electorate that didn’t want them.
Ohio Republicans also tried to put a thumb on the scale by brazenly lying about the purpose of the election. A controversial ad in support of Issue 1 didn’t mention abortion at all. Instead, it fully embraced unhinged transphobic fear-mongering. The ad showed a young girl being tucked into bed with a voice-over declaring, “You promised to keep the bad guys away. Protect her. Now’s your chance. Out-of-state special interests that put trans ideology in classrooms and encourage sex changes for kids are hiding behind slick ads.”
Voters didn’t buy the bigoted misdirection
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