Pro-life groups involved in the unsuccessful opposition to an Ohio ballot measure that enshrined abortion access into the state’s constitution on Tuesday are offering up “postmortem” insight into what went wrong and pushing back on the popular media narrative that abortion is an issue that Republicans can’t win on.
After Ohioans voted “Yes” on Issue 1 by a 13 point margin on Tuesday, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser released a memo explaining how opponents of Issue 1 were outspent by a “2:1 margin” in a media blitz that SBA Vice President of State Affairs Stephen Billy said consisted of ads that were “lying to the voters of Ohio” because the abortion industry knows its positions are “too extreme” for most Americans.
“The abortion industry’s game plan is we’re going to spend tens of millions of dollars and lie to the American people and run ads that say that pro-life states don’t have protections for life of the mother situations. We’re going to run ads that say women can’t get care for a miscarriage because of the laws of pro-life states and those are the lies that are getting picked up by the national media as well,” Billy said.
One of the ways to do that, Billy said, is on the issue of messaging, which many pundits and media sources have said is something that Republicans routinely fail to do. Billy rejected that narrative and pointed out several areas where Republicans have won on abortion post the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Just a few months after the reversal of Roe v. Wade in June 2022 that sparked protests across the country, several staunch pro-life governors across the country won overwhelming re-election efforts, including in Florida, Ohio, Iowa and Georgia, and those governors had also previously signed abortion restrictions into law.
“Georgia is one of my favorite examples because you had the darling of the left, Stacey Abrams, at the front of the line trying to tell people that babies don’t have heartbeats and that the sound that the ultrasound machine makes is somehow some kind of creation to manipulate and Gov. Kemp strongly stood up for life and signed a heartbeat law and won that election.”
“We’re able to win when we’re able to directly expose the extremism of the other side and contrast that with the compassion and the love of the pro-life movement,” Billy explained. “It’s not a political liability to be pro-life.
“It’s not a losing issue. The voters and the American people are with us in rejecting the extremism of the abortion industry and their desire for us to be like China and North Korea, to have abortions without limits. We just have to find a way to to translate the success our politicians have had into these ballot initiative fights.”
Ashley Hayek, political strategist and executive director of America First Works, told Fox News Digital that “conservatives are always going to be outspent” by massive pro-abortion networks and the key is, “We have to be a lot more strategic in how we spend money, how we target voters, how we message, and we need to be more unified.”
“It took 50 years to undo Roe v. Wade, so pro-lifers are used to temporary setbacks on the long road to ending abortion,” Rev. Dean Nelson, executive director of Human Coalition Action, said following the Ohio vote. “We will not rest in our work to save as many lives as possible and shield women from the horrors of the abortion industry.”
Mehek Cooke, who served as a spokesperson for Protect Women Ohio but spoke to Fox News Digital in her capacity as a Republican consultant and attorney, said conservatives “can and will win to protect the life of the unborn by finding consensus.”
In order to win going forward, Cooke explained that abortion opponents must “frame the pro-life movement to fight against full-term abortions across America and for parental consent if our child is confronted with life-altering decisions like abortion.”
“The Democrats went from safe, legal and rare to infanticide for all,” Cooke said. “This is the battle we are faced with today. Whether you are pro-choice, pro-life or somewhere in between, there is a path for common sense to prevail where we protect the life of an unborn child at viability with exceptions such as protecting the life of the mother, rape or incest. Now is not the time to demonize one another but enact stronger policies and ensure consistent funding to assist pregnant mothers, pregnancy centers, and adoption services.”
Protect Women Ohio released a statement following the Ohio Issue 1 vote that said, “Our hearts are broken tonight not because we lost an election, but because Ohio families, women and children will bear the brunt of this vote.”
“When Michigan voters passed a similar amendment last year, they were sold the lie that parental rights would be unaffected, that late-term abortion would remain illegal, and that women’s health and safety standards would not be touched. But just last week, the Michigan legislature voted to repeal penalties for partial-birth abortions, to eliminate health and safety protections at abortion facilities, and they called parental consent laws ‘unconstitutional.’”
“They even vowed to come for informed consent laws and 24-hour waiting periods next. We know the same barbaric attacks on parents and children are now coming home to Ohio.”
Billy told Fox News Digital that he anticipates pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU using the same playbook from Ohio in future abortion battlegrounds like Arizona, Nebraska, Missouri and South Dakota.
“It’s just been incredible to see how aggressive the legacy media has been in their willingness to parrot and amplify the misinformation from the abortion industry,” Billy said. “We know we’re going to be outspent and we know we’re going to have to fight legacy media bias. We just have to figure out a way to account for that and change the direction that these battles have been going.”