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GOP 49
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Abortion Will Be Tested Next Week

A week from yesterday, Ohioans will vote on whether to enshrine the right to an abortion in the state Constitution. Ohio and national Democrats are throwing everything they've got into passing the initiative, called Issue 1. Early voting has been robust, with 300,000 early ballots so far, far exceeding the previous off-year election in 2021.

State Democrats up and down the line are fighting for passage. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is leading the phone-banking efforts. Rep. Greg Landsman (D-OH) is stumping the state for the measure. Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Emilia Sykes (D-OH) are knocking on doors. Lots of money is flowing into the "Yes on 1" campaign from out of state.

The results of the referendum and the margin of victory or defeat will shape messaging and strategy in Ohio and elsewhere next year. If Issue 1 passes by a huge margin, Democrats will try to clone it in every state where that is possible, maybe even deep red states. It could be a powerful way to get marginal voters, especially young voters, to the polls next year. Of course, if the measure is a dud and fails, all bets are off.

State Republicans understand all this very well, so from Gov. Mike DeWine (R-OH) on down, they are campaigning to defeat it. One thing some Democrats are worried about is that the guy who counts the votes, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), who is also running for the Senate, strongly opposes Issue 1. Will he use his power to put his thumb on the scale? If he thinks he can get away with it, who knows. If he thinks he might get caught, though, that could mess up his Senate campaign, so he might not.

Chairman of the Ohio Republican Party Alex Triantafilou said: "I don't think that this is going to be the predictor that the left thinks it will be. 2024 will be a referendum on Joe Biden, as these presidential elections always are." That may be partly true, but the loud Republican opposition to Issue 1 now could make it clear to young people and women where the GOP stands on an issue of great importance to them.

A victory for Issue 1 also sends the message to Democrats nationwide that Ohio is not some deep red hellhole that can't be won. That is hugely important for Brown, who is up for reelection next year. If Democrats outside Ohio start thinking of Ohio as a reddish-purple state, money could flow into Brown's campaign coffers.

One of the Republican arguments against the measure is that it states that "individuals," not "adults," have a right to abortion. They interpret this as meaning that pregnant teenage girls would have a constitutional right to an abortion, even if their parents oppose the procedure. LaRose went further and said: "We don't allow children under 18 to get a tattoo without parental involvement. So to imagine a young girl in a crisis in her life, being sort of hustled off by some uncaring bureaucrats to some abortion clinic without having her parents around her is really startling for a lot of us." This is an outright lie. Nothing in the law authorizes any bureaucrat to force anyone to have an abortion. What it does do is prevent some bureaucrat or politician from telling a pregnant teenager: "I have decided you cannot have an abortion. Your opinion does not matter." We'll know in a week how the voting went, but the fall-out could take longer to be clear. (V)

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