In the midst of Tuesday night’s debacle for Republicans in Ohio and Virginia, Fox News’ Sean Hannity lamented, “Democrats are trying to scare women into thinking Republicans don't want abortion legal under any circumstances.” Gosh, I wonder why women would think that?
Meanwhile, Republican officials in Ohio were vowing to overthrow the voters’ choice to enshrine abortion rights in the state’s constitution. “The legislature has multiple paths that we will explore to continue to protect innocent life,” Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens declared. “This is not the end of the conversation.” Republican Senate President Matt Huffman agreed, saying, “This isn’t the end. It is really just the beginning of a revolving door of ballot campaigns to repeal or replace Issue 1.”
The forced-birth movement’s refusal to accept reality is being taken to absurd lengths in Michigan, where voters approved a constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights in 2022. The group Right to Life of Michigan is suing in federal court to overturn that amendment, with the clear aim of getting abortion back in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to finish the job it started with its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
The organization argues that the state constitutional amendment creates a “super right” to abortion, and that violates the 14th Amendment because it “exempted women from legal protections afforded to other classes,” which is a novel argument. Right to Life also argues that the amendment “overrides religious objections related to reproductive services in violation of the First Amendment.” They also maintain that the amendment “improperly nullifies the authority of the Legislature.”
The argument that the existence of abortion rights violates the religious liberty of a person who doesn’t want an abortion is another one of those novel arguments. But you never know what the Supreme Court is going to swallow when it comes to religious freedom arguments. Last year the conservative majority issued a ruling in 303 Creative v. Elenis that “for the first time in its history, grants a business open to the public a constitutional right to refuse to serve members of a protected class,” as Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained.
What the forced birthers would be asking of the conservatives on the court, should the case make it there, would be to renounce a core part of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Dobbs: that the issue was being returned to the states and to the will of the people in those states. “Our decision returns the issue of abortion to those legislative bodies, and it allows women on both sides of the abortion issue to seek to affect the legislative process by influencing public opinion, lobbying legislators, voting, and running for office,” he wrote. “Women are not without electoral or political power.”
Right to Life of Michigan could be hanging part of its challenge on this part of Alito’s ruling: "It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.” They argue that the state’s voters usurped the power of the Legislature with the constitutional amendment. Since Michigan’s constitution allows voters to do that, it’s a tenuous legal argument, but it would probably work for Alito and Clarence Thomas, as well. Good luck with the rest of them.
Legal parsing aside, the Republicans’ refusal to accept the will of the people when it comes to abortion is great for Democrats. It’s all the proof voters need that Republicans are hellbent on abolishing abortion. And it’s even better that they’re trying to overturn the will of the voters in the battleground states of Ohio and Michigan.
Republicans immediately retreat to fantasyland after Ohio voters back abortion rights
ICYMI: Abortion fuels another Democratic electoral romp
Vermont, California, Michigan enshrine abortion rights in state constitutions
Just one word explains why Democrats had such a massive election night on Tuesday: abortion. On the newest episode of The Downballot, co-hosts David Nir and David Beard recap all the top races through the lens of reproductive rights, which continue to motivate Democrats and even win over a key swath of Republican voters. Nowhere was that more evident than in Ohio, which voted to enshrine the right to an abortion into the state constitution by a double-digit margin, despite countless GOP attempts to derail the effort.