Support for abortion access remains high among both Democratic and Republican voters, and as such, Republicans have resorted to trying to trick people into voting for anti-abortion measures – and they’re using anti-trans fearmongering to do it.
In several states, Republicans have tried to convince voters that ballot measures seeking to restrict reproductive rights will also protect youth from Democrats – who they say are trying to force children into gender transitions.
A recent report from Slate detailed how Republicans have (unsuccessfully so far) used this tactic in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
In Michigan last year, Republicans spent millions of dollars trying to defeat an abortion rights amendment by trying to convince voters it also would have allowed doctors to perform gender-affirming surgery on children without their parents’ consent.
The amendment did pass, and it gave the people of Michigan full decision-making power when it comes to “prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, contraception, sterilization, abortion care, miscarriage management, and infertility care.” Republicans released ads trying to make voters believe that the inclusion of “sterilization” in the language somehow meant kids would be allowed to transition without their parents knowing. Legal experts refuted this claim and said the amendment could not be interpreted as such.
In Ohio, Republicans ran anti-trans ads in an effort to get people to vote for a ballot measure that had nothing to do with trans rights but would have stopped an abortion rights amendment.
An ad funded by the right-wing group “Protect Women Ohio” shows a parent reading a bedtime story to a young girl. A voiceover states, “You promised you’d keep the bad guys away. Protect her.” It warns that “trans ideology” is being pushed in classrooms and that kids are being encouraged to undergo gender transitions. The ad encouraged parents to protect their rights by voting yes on August 8th to Issue 1, even though that measure had nothing to do with trans rights. https://www.youtube.com/embed/QdLtcX1Hzlk
But Ohioans didn’t take the bait. In fact, even though Republicans hastily threw together an emergency vote on Issue 1, voter turnout was reportedly 38 percent higher than all regularly scheduled primary elections since 2016. Issue 1 was defeated by 14 percent.
Issue 1, however, was only an attempt to defeat the amendment on procedural grounds. There remains an upcoming November vote on the actual abortion rights amendment, and the GOP is using the same anti-trans tactics.
One ad from Protect Women Ohio claims the amendment will allow kids to undergo “sex change surgery” without their parents’ knowledge or consent. The ad warns: “They’re coming for your parental right.
The actual constitutional amendment that voters will decide on in November doesn’t even mention gender-affirming care for minors. It states: “Every individual has a right to make and carry out one’s own reproductive decisions, including but not limited to decisions on contraception, fertility treatment, continuing one’s own pregnancy, miscarriage care, and abortion.”
“Opponents have latched on to the ‘but not limited to’ language to say that this could provide a constitutional right to, among other things, gender-affirming care rights. That’s not a legally persuasive argument,” Jonathan Entin, a professor emeritus at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve School of Law, told NBC News.
Wisconsin Republicans did the same thing in a critical state Supreme Court case earlier this year. In April, Judge Janet Protasiewicz prevailed over conservative opponent Dan Kelly, giving liberals a majority on the court for the first time in 15 years.
And despite the fact that the key issues in the race were abortion and redistricting, rather than trans rights, Protasiewicz faced vicious anti-trans attacks throughout her campaign from a far-right extremist group called the American Principles Project. The American Principles Project PAC reportedly spent almost $800,000 on ads and text messages supporting Kelly and accusing Protasiewicz of trying to turn kids transgender.
According to Wisconsin Watch, one text from an unknown number that included an American Principles Project video said Protasiewicz is “endorsed by all the woke activists that are stripping parents of their rights in Wisconsin schools and forcing transgenderism down our throats.”
Others said, “Protasiewicz and her woke allies want to TRANS our children without notifying parents” and have accused the “woke left” of having an “unending thirst to trans our children.”
States that have placed abortion rights on the ballot have found that a majority of voters support protecting those rights by law, even in rural red states like Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana.