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The abortion election

The Election of 2023 turned into the abortion election, as the pro-life side refused to defend its position as it ought to have defended it.

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The off-year elections of 2023 turned into the abortion election. Democrats flipped the Virginia House of Delegates back – by implying that Republican majorities would ban abortion. (They wouldn’t – but they should.) Pennsylvania’s elected Supreme Court got another Democratic member – to vote for abortion. Ohio voters not only kept the threshold to amend the Constitution at a simple majority of the electorate – an exceedingly foolish threshold – but then approved Measure One, which now says that abortion on demand, for any reason or no reason, up to the moment of birth shall be the law of the land. (And this in a State having the motto, “With God, all things are possible”!) And Kentucky’s Democratic Governor won re-election – in part by implying that his opponent would ban abortion outright.

In sum, this became the abortion election. So those of us who care about a republic (not a democracy) must defend the rights of the unborn – up front. Failure to do so, caused this to become the abortion election.

How the abortion election came about

Obviously the United States Supreme Court laid the groundwork, with its ground-breaking case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. (597 U.S. ____, 2022.) In 2018, Mississippi (which today saw a rare Republican victory) passed the Gestational Age Act. It banned abortion after fifteen weeks, because (as the legislature found) abortion is too gruesome after that. The Jackson (Mississippi) Women’s Health Organization sued the State to block this law. They won in the District Court, and also in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The particular panel they drew, cited the earlier case of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), as controlling.

Naturally the State appealed to the Supreme Court, and sought to distinguish Roe and a companion 1992 case. Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992). The State held that, under the somewhat looser Casey regime, the State had a compelling interest in stopping gruesome procedures that, furthermore, put the mother’s health at greater risk.In response, lawyers for Jackson Women’s held that, if the Court found in favor of Mississippi, they might as well overturn Roe.

Furious with the respondents daring to give the Court an ultimatum, the Court found, 6-3, in favor of the State. In so finding, they firmly declared that Roe and Casey were decided in error, and the Court must correct that error.


Someone – we still don’t know who – leaked the first-draft opinion in Dobbs to the public, seven weeks before the Court was ready to publish it.

Post-election analysis

On November 7, several States held off-year elections. The most important of these – those that could have gone either way – took place in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky. Virginia held elections for its Senate and House of Delegates. Pennsylvania held an election to fill a vacancy in its Supreme Court. Ohio had two measures on the ballot:

  1. A measure to raise the threshold for amending the Constitution to a super-majority, and
  2. Measure One, to codify abortion on demand, up to the moment of birth.

Kentucky had a Governor’s race, in the context of its senior United States Senator possibly being too ill to serve.

To repeat: Democrats in Virginia recaptured the House of Delegates, which they had lost two years before. They did it by emphasizing abortion, and implying that Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-Va.), if he had total control, would ban the procedure. In fact, Gov. Youngkin is on record as favoring a limit on abortion to fifteen weeks – like Mississippi’s law. Now either the Democrats were lying outright, or – to a Democrat – anything less than abortion on demand, for any reason or no reason, up to the moment of birth, is a ban.

Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky

In Ohio they might have had some justice to that claim. Measure One overrode Ohio’s existing ban on abortion in all cases, even those of rape and incest. Sean Trende (who incidentally was one of two Special Masters to the Supreme Court of Virginia, charged with redrawing legislative and Congressional districts in that State) reports that pro-life forces did not buy advertising on most media. Pro-choice forces campaigned heavily, and portrayed abortion – at any time – as a private matter. One ad featured a father asking, “What if my daughter were raped?” Measure One passed 57 percent to 43 percent.

Pennsylvania added a Democrat to its elected Supreme Court, over the same issue. Likewise, Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear coasted to reelection. Again the issue was: abortion, abortion, abortion.


Mississippi was one of the few bright spots. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves won reelection, though the margin was a little too close.

Explanations – or excuses – for Republican losses in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky were as many as those offering them. Democrats sometimes boasted that – who knew! – voters wanted a “return to sanity.” A few Democrats touted their stand on abortion, and trumpeted abortion on demand. The RINO (Republican In Name Only) Establishment blamed Donald Trump. This included Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) and his campaign manager, both of whom called Trump a loser. But Dominick Izzo laid the blame squarely on the abortion issue. Perhaps he missed only one thing: pro-life forces did not defend their position.

The abortion election could have gone the other way

Sean Trende says it all: he saw no pro-life advertising in Ohio, where he and his family reside. This parallels the criticism CNAV made two months ago of President Trump, for failing to own the abortion issue. Until Republicans take such ownership, every election will be an abortion election, especially State-wide. For a measure like Measure One, that places the unborn child at the total mercy of cold-hearted people interested in leaving no abortion unperformed, to pass – by fourteen points – ought to be final shame to the pride of anyone who dares call himself (or herself) pro-life. And not even to campaign for life is inexcusable.

The abortion map doesn’t reflect these results, but one can draw one conclusion at once. Ohio’s “pending restriction” disappears, and in Ohio, abortion is totally legal and protected. A judge had blocked a six-week ban, and now that case is moot – and the State’s twenty-week limit now disappears. Ohio now will have an even worse abortion regime than the country did under Roe and Casey. The Buckeye State also cemented its status as an abortion tourist trap for residents of Indiana and West Virginia. Only because Republicans have veto-proof control of Kentucky’s legislature will Kentucky not follow suit. Pennsylvania and Virginia keep their abortion tourist trap status.

How to turn this around

Pro-life does not have to be a losing position – but it will not win without a consistent defense. Generations lacking religious instruction – and under an academy that concludes that God does not exist – brought us to this pass. The Grand Evolutionary Paradigm, with its Satanic trident of hyper-uniformitarianism, abiogenesis, and “common descent,” holds life morally indefensible. Whether to hold life cheap or dear becomes a matter of personal preference – and cold calculation.


This has made the pro-life side timid – and timidity is a virus that can destroy a political side’s ability to win or even to survive. They propose ambiguous measures that fool no one on the anti-life side – and those measures fail. Meanwhile, the “Squad” Leader says banning abortion makes workers exploitable – conveniently forgetting that allowing it allows employers to refuse family leave and tell workers to “take care of the problem.”

The calculus of abortion shouldn’t have to be college level. Abortion values are not sustainable. The endgame for abortion would leave no one to demand it, and a majority to demand its ban. Furthermore, the rogues’ gallery of Ultimate Abortion Providers – Kenneth Edelin, Leroy Carhart, and Kermit Gosnell – remains. True, they’re not in practice. Edelin died ten years ago, and Carhart died last April. Gosnell ls languishing in prison for “going too far” in seven abortions – and causing the death of a mother. But Ohio’s Measure One would allow any of them to act with impunity.

A principled defense of life

About 300 years before Christ was born, Hippocrates of Cos made his students swear an Oath to respect life, and first of all, to do no harm. Medical schools, after the Flexner Report, preserved the memory of that Oath – until Roe. Then they watered it down, and still have. Christians need to start their own medical schools, and hold Medical Baccalaureates at which students swear a new Oath. CNAV has composed it: the Oath of Saint Luke.

Never again may the pro-life side allow an abortion election to take place without a campaign by them. That campaign must address all the “hard cases.” To answer that man posing as a father and asking, “What if my daughter were raped?” It ill befits a father to tell his daughter that the family will “take care of the problem.” That’s to compound the crime of rape with the worse crime of murder. A proper father supports both lives – that of his daughter and that of his grandchild. (And to answer the financial considerations, it befits a government to support the woman involved and to require restitution of the assailant.)

Nor do those “hard cases” represent more than a fraction of all abortions. One can understand – while loathing – a man who wants the abortion regime to continue. He has no connection to a developing life. The woman does. And any woman is free to refuse intimate favors. (Furthermore, a woman looking for such favors is looking for love in the wrong place.)


The object lesson of the abortion election

Two years ago, CNAV observed, when the Dobbs decision came down, that the pro-life side had won its Mount LaDifensa. Now is not the time to show the timidity that Trump allegedly showed after the Great Leak. Several female social-media influencers said then that they would abandon the “hookup culture.” They should do that now, because “hookup” never did the women any favors; all the favors accrue to the men. Furthermore, if women already realize that, half the battle is won!

The Supreme Court of South Carolina has already recognized the unborn child as a person having a legal interest. Why hasn’t the pro-life side built upon that ruling? Why especially did they not defend it in Ohio?

The pro-life side must defend life in all forums – elections as well as judicial trials and appeals. Whether it takes a generation, or two – the campaign must start now. No one ever won a war without fighting it. And life is the best casus belli of all.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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