Ben Shapiro on abortion rights victories: Voters “have to be unindoctrinated about ... what abortion is”

Ben Shapiro bemoans popular support for abortion rights victories: “Local ladies got very upset”

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Citation From the November 8, 2023, edition of The Daily Wire's The Ben Shapiro Show

BEN SHAPIRO (HOST): So, again, this was a race that was largely run on the basis of abortion. Glenn Youngkin was running around the state attempting to drum up support for his own side. The problem is that right now, again, things are not going like -- Youngkin is personally very popular in Virginia. That doesn't necessarily translate over into Republican control if Republicans have a bad image across the country. And right now, Republicans have a bad image across the country. They're seen as largely incompetent. Again, partially or largely earned. They're seen as extreme by brand, and that is largely tied to January 6th and Donald Trump in particular, as you will see in in discussing some of these other elections. And when it comes to the abortion issue, Republicans have not yet gotten their heads around an actual winning message on the issue. 

Now, the truth is that winning message on abortion is not the same across the country. Politics is a pragmatic business, and the full pro-life message in Virginia is not going to go the same way as the full pro-life message in, say, Georgia or Florida. In Florida, you can pass a six week abortion ban because Republicans are very popular here. In Georgia, you can do the same. You can't do that in Virginia. Glenn Youngkin was not running on that. He was running on a 15 week abortion ban. And the problem was that Democrats were saying that's the first step toward Republicans going for the full abortion ban in Virginia and local ladies got very upset, and they all came out and they voted in favor of the Democrats. And the same thing happened in Ohio as well.

In the wake of Roe v. Wade, Republicans have not come up with a state-by-state strategy or a messaging strategy. And here is what the actual strategy needs to be. On a state-by-state basis, where there is consensus, you pass a thing, where there is not consensus, you don't pass a thing. Now, there is no one in America as pro-life as I am. I've spoken in the March for Life. I'm fully pro-life. I don't even in my own personal idea of what good legislation would look like, I would not tolerate abortion even in cases that are very controversial like rape of incest. I'm as pro-life as it is possible to be. I've been extremely clear about this. However, if you wish to see fewer abortions in the United States, if you wish to see durable law in the United States, you have to win. And if you want to win, that's going to mean they're going to have to come face-to-face with some tough realities. And the reality is that running on my platform, running on what I would like to see is not going to win you office in Virginia. It's not. And the more threatening you appear in Virginia, the worse it's going to go for you.

The same thing happened in Ohio. So in Ohio, the Democrats in pretty wide fashion, won a referendum on abortion, what they call abortion rights. What it really was was enshrining Roe v. Wade in law in the state of Ohio. So in Ohio, there was an attempt to, enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. It's a ballot initiative. It establishes, quote, an individual right to one's own reproductive medical treatment, including but not limited to abortion, and it creates legal protections for anyone who assists a person with receiving reproductive medical treatment according to the Washington Post. The amendment grants the treating physician the authority to determine on a case-by-case basis whether an unborn child is viable and grants exceptions for abortions at any stage of pregnancy to protect the health or life of the mother.

So why did this happen?

Well, the reason this happened is because there was another election that was held in August. That was a referendum that would have made it more difficult to amend the state constitution through future ballot initiatives. The reason for that is because there was a snapback law in place in Ohio that had effectively banned abortion almost across the board in Ohio in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade being overturned. So they tried to pass a law, the Republicans that basically enshrined in the constitution what law was. It's gonna be very difficult for you to overturn that, and that was rejected. And then a right to abortion was enshrined in the state constitution.

Now, let's say that the Republicans instead of allowing that snapback law to go into place, let's say that they said, listen, we know that in Ohio that the the law before this was 22 weeks. 22 weeks is way too late, but we need to incrementally introduce the people of Ohio to what good abortion law looks like. They're not gonna go to 6 weeks and stay there. And if you wanna preserve lives in the long term, you're gonna have to do this incrementally because that's how politics often works.

The message is lives must be preserved we also have to go a little slower than even we would want – for sure than we would want – because people have to get used to ideas. They have to be unindoctrinated about what life is and what abortion is.

And so we're gonna go to a 15 week. In Ohio, hard to see how that would have failed, for example. Ohio's very red state. Donald Trump won that state by 8-10 points in the last couple of election cycles. They didn't do that. And so instead, you get the snapback in Ohio, which now has enshrined basically Roe v. Wade.

Again, that's the same thing that happened in Virginia. Republicans – a lot of Republicans are saying abortion is not a winning issue. It's not about being a winning issue. It's about do you have a winning message and can you wrongfoot your opponents? The nice thing about arguing for an incremental approach is that Democrats are then forced to argue in favor of 20-week abortions and 22-week abortions.

And that's not something that they like arguing over. They like arguing over rape and incest exceptions because those are the most outlying and least common forms of abortion.

Both sides like arguing at the extremes of this particular argument. The right is very comfortable arguing part of partial-birth abortion for obvious reasons. The left is comfortable arguing rape and incest.

The question is where is that line where the median voter tips over from one side to the other? And again, winning elections is the precondition to changing the law. Republicans should keep that in mind.