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After championing the return of abortion policy to the states, anti-abortion figures are trying to block voter-driven ballot measures

As anti-abortion legislation keeps failing at state level, the movement is undermining voters' ballot decisions and cheering on a federal ban

Following decades of demanding Roe v. Wade be overturned in order to allow states to self-govern abortion policy, conservative and anti-abortion media have begun cheerleading deceptive and undemocratic methods of restricting reproductive rights as voters across the country overwhelmingly vote to protect access to abortion.

  • For decades, anti-abortion and conservative media championed the overturning of Roe to allow states to decide abortion policy

    • After former President Donald Trump’s appointment of two new justices secured a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for the first time in decades, the anti-abortion movement seized a long-awaited opportunity to repeal the federal right to abortion. Anti-abortion activists reasoned that challenging Roe in front of the new court makeup could help them finally achieve their goal to “allow states to ban abortion completely.” [FiveThirtyEight, 5/21/19]
    • In December 2021, Marjorie Dannenfelser wrote an op-ed for Fox News urging the Supreme Court to “completely” overturn Roe and return the question to “We the People.” Dannenfelser — who is the president of the highly influential anti-abortion organization Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America —  argued that it’s “ludicrous” to “claim seven male justices saved women from gender inequality” by drafting the 1973 majority opinion in Roe. [Fox News, 12/1/21]
    • Following the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization draft leak and subsequent ruling that reversed Roe’s precedent, conservative organizations cheered the Supreme Court’s decision and the opportunity for states to set their own laws on abortion. [Alliance Defending Freedom, 5/3/22; Students for Life of America, 6/24/22; Live Action, 6/24/22; LifeSiteNews, 6/24/22]
  • Abortion rights are extremely popular among Americans, leading more states to introduce abortion amendments on their ballots

    • After Roe was overturned, abortion rights proved to be a strong motivating factor for voters and have prevailed every election season. Protections for reproductive health outperformed Joe Biden’s 2020 election results in some areas and continue to be popular, even in conservative-leaning states. [Politico, 11/9/23]
    • Following the losses of several anti-abortion campaigns, Republican politicians and right-wing pundits struggled to respond. Some contended that their abortion policies aren’t strict enough while others argued that they’re too restrictive for the general public. [Media Matters, 8/24/23, 11/16/23]
  • Right-wing and anti-abortion figures have resorted to covert tactics in their attempts to thwart abortion protections

  • Figures have made claims that election results are invalid or that insidious third parties are influencing elections

    • After Ohioans voted to enshrine abortion access into their state constitution, Rolling Stone reported that one anti-abortion state representative had claimed that the ballot initiative passed solely due to “foreign election interference.” [Rolling Stone, 11/10/23]
    • Rolling Stone also reported that anti-abortion groups in Michigan are working alongside conservative lawmakers to undermine the implementation of Michigan’s recently-ratified abortion referendum. In the lawsuit filed by Michigan Right to Life and The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the groups claim that the wording of the referendum gives “a ‘super-right’ to reproductive freedom.” [Rolling Stone, 11/9/23]
    • Leading up to Kansas’ vote on abortion rights in August, anti-abortion groups attempted to sow doubt in election security and promoted false claims that ballot drop-off boxes were susceptible to tampering and election interference. [Media Matters, 8/2/22]

    Several anti-abortion groups and publications have openly objected to allowing abortion-protecting measures to be placed on ballots

    • Abortion opponents and GOP lawmakers have attempted to make it harder to place abortion measures on ballots in states like Florida and Mississippi. Strategies to keep abortion off the ballots have included making it harder to pass state amendments, requiring legislative referral for amendments, and challenging the language of proposed legislation in the court system. [Democracy Docket, 5/5/23; KFF Health News, 11/22/23; Politico, 12/18/23]
    • On X and Instagram, National Right to Life also encouraged Florida residents to “decline to sign” in favor of putting an abortion amendment on the ballot. The group claimed that “radical out-of-state abortion zealots” are attempting to turn the state into “an abortion destination.” [Twitter/X, 12/13/23; Instagram, 12/13/23]
    • Anti-abortion activist and defrocked priest Frank Pavone posted on X, “Thank you to everyone who came this week to learn how to stop the Florida Pro-abortion Amendment and save the unborn!” [Twitter/X, 10/20/23]
    • LifeNews published a piece from the Florida-based Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal organization, urging the state Supreme Court to reject a proposed abortion amendment to the Florida Constitution. The piece falsely suggested that the amendment would enshrine “abortions up to birth” in the law, even though the law would only protect abortions up to the point of viability or “when necessary to protect the patient’s health.” Liberty Counsel equated the potential ballot measure to “unlimited human genocide” and “unrestricted abortion on demand.” [LifeNews, 12/26/23; MyFlorida, 5/8/23]
    • Grazie Pozo Christie, a radio host and senior fellow for The Catholic Association, wrote an op-ed in Townhall claiming that passing a Florida abortion amendment “would endanger women and eliminate all the commonsense medical safeguards that have been established to protect them.” Pozo Christie accused amendment supporters of trying to cut financial corners instead of protecting patients and instructed readers to “decline to sign.” [Townhall, 12/21/23]
    • Democrats for Life of America promoted a “decline to sign” petition on its X (formerly Twitter) page urging followers not to provide the signatures needed to add a ballot measure protecting abortion to the 2024 ballot in Arkansas. [Twitter/X, 11/28/23]

    Right-wing and anti-abortion figures have advocated for a federal abortion ban

    • An article in The Federalist asserted that anti-abortion figures have been “calling for a stop to the barbaric practice of abortion for decades.” The article is titled “Yes, Outlawing The Barbarism Of Abortion Was Always The Goal.” [The Federalist, 9/15/22]
    • An opinion piece published by Fox News asserted that “while a 15-week abortion ban is far from perfect,” it would be an incremental step toward a total ban on abortion access. The article also claimed that pro-choice activists and Democrats “support murdering unborn children up until the moment of birth.” [Fox News, 8/30/23]
    • An editorial by the National Review claimed the 14th Amendment extends civil protections to fetuses, which would make abortion unconstitutional. The editorial demanded that Congress take action to outlaw abortion nationwide. [National Review, 9/14/22]
    • The American Conservative published an article asserting that anti-abortion groups “must take positive action at the level of national legislation” to push for a federal abortion ban and a ban on drugs used in medication abortions. The piece claimed: “The right has a moral obligation to act. Human souls are on the line. This is not a matter in which preference, or policy, or even party, should come to bear. It is not a matter that can be left to each state to choose, or only banned up to a certain degree, as though it is somehow a worse thing to kill a 15-week-old than it is to kill a 14-week-old.” [The American Conservative, 4/28/23]
    • Anti-abortion groups celebrated potential federal restrictions of medication abortion after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that access to mifepristone, one of two pills typically used in medication abortion regimens, should be limited. Erin Hawley, an anti-abortion figure and lead attorney on the case, expressed hopes that the court’s decision will deter the use of mifepristone and “gives women a reason to think twice about taking mifepristone unsupervised.” [Politico, 8/16/23]
    • Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion lawmakers have pushed several versions of abortion ban legislation. In what “would seem to be a direct contradiction to the idea that states could chart their own course,” according to The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler, multiple representatives co-sponsored a federal ban on abortion despite rejoicing the return of abortion policies to states. [The Washington Post, 9/7/22]
    • Following the first GOP presidential primary debate, right-wing and anti-abortion figures praised candidates who supported a 15-week abortion ban and chastised candidates who were not in support of the ban. [Media Matters, 8/25/23]