For an alternate viewpoint, see “Point: Put Public Health on the Ballot.”
Election results in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia provide important lessons to learn about abortion heading into 2024 and the future state of our society.
Though Ohio holds a Republican trifecta, its voters turned out 57 percent to 43 percent to support a ballot issue that establishes a state constitutional right to abortion.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, held on to his seat in a ruby-red state. He used a rape and incest abortion ad to paint his opponent as an extremist who wants to punish rape victims with abortion restrictions.
In a state where a fetus can be “made comfortable” while the doctor and mother decide whether they live or die, Virginia Republicans were silent on abortion until two weeks before the election.
These examples tell us two things: Abortion is a cornerstone campaign issue for candidates, and we need a new sexual revolution in our society.
Abortion is certifiably a kitchen-table issue now. Gone are the days when Republican policymakers could avoid uncomfortable social issues like abortion by labeling them not “kitchen-table” issues, using the phrase as a sort of magic wand to make the discussions disappear.
In the current environment, those same policymakers cannot survive without making abortion an essential issue to their platforms because it is an issue at the forefront of the electorate’s minds. For 40 years, society bought into the rhetoric of abortion as a “women’s right to choose” until Roe v. Wade was overturned last year. Politicians cannot run away from that.
The credit for abortion becoming a campaign centerpiece can be shared between pro-lifers’ unwavering commitment to humans in the womb and the fact that Democrats have ALWAYS made abortion the center of their campaigns. We know abortion has a party that stands by it unequivocally, and now more than ever. Can we say the same for the side of Life? Are we going to have candidates who make ads about protecting life in the womb that are just as moving as Beshear’s incest-abortion ad? We need the boldness of 2016 Trump on Life and revamp our cultural apologetics for the right to life to include the sacrosanctity of sex.
Though about a third of states protect life ranging from conception to six weeks, the last several ballot initiatives on abortion have failed. This tells us that when voters are forced to make the choice themselves on abortion instead of through their elected officials, they choose to preserve abortion. Those who are “personally pro-life” do not want to be left without the option of abortion should they find themselves in less-than-favorable circumstances.
The statistics have shown us that the vast majority of abortions are performed for non-medical reasons. After spending time with hundreds of women in crisis at my local pregnancy center, I have seen that to be true. People want consequence-free sex. And by people, I mean: women, students, parents, cheaters, abusers, traffickers, un-willing partners, and whoever is making money off the inconveniently pregnant woman. All these types of people make up the voting population.
So, we must change people’s minds about sex, not just abortion.
That means linking arms with anti-sex-trafficking and abuse-recovery services to stand with women instead of protecting their abusers and compounding their trauma with abortion. We live in a sex-crazed culture, where pornography is normative and sexual abuse is common.
We must be relentless in advancing justice for those who are abused and begin to renew the minds of our society to see sex as a sacred act preserved for marriage rather than a commodity.
Instead of introducing pornography into the classrooms, we must educate our youths to aim for the best achievable outcomes in life, which social scientists have dubbed as the success sequence — meaning if you finish school, get a job, get married, THEN have kids, your chances of evading poverty increase by 90 percent. The novel concept that abstinence forges a path with fewer obstacles is not just for the religious but for the pragmatist.
Traditionally, the apologetics of the pro-life movement have centered on the humanity of the unborn — and it should. Still, we must also change the culture by making a greater moral appeal to the sacredness of sex.