To Stop An Abortion-Rights Amendment, Conservatives Are Attacking LGBTQ Rights

by | Oct 21, 2022 | Politics

This article is part of HuffPost’s biweekly politics newsletter. Click here to subscribe.The politics of abortion aren’t especially ambiguous at this point: Most Americans don’t want a government ban. And while there’s a range of opinion on exactly when it’s OK to restrict access, or under what conditions, most Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade in June.The evidence is in the polls, in the rejection of that anti-abortion ballot initiative in Kansas, and in the victories for Democrats who support abortion rights in a series of special elections. But for political professionals, the most telling sign may be the way that opponents of abortion rights are acting. AdvertisementThey are desperate to shift political conversation away from reproductive rights. When they can’t do that, they try to obfuscate either their own position or that of abortion-rights supporters.It’s been going on for a while. Here, for example, is an article from August about Republican candidates scrubbing their websites of references to abortion. But this week opponents of abortion have rolled out a new campaign, one that seeks to exploit anxiety over LGBTQ rights and what conservatives have been calling “grooming.” It alleges that a key ballot proposal, in a key state, would let children get gender-affirming care without parental consent.And “alleges” is the right word, because it’s based on a far-fetched argument that one prominent legal scholar told me was “absurd.”AdvertisementA Battle Over Abortion Rights In MichiganI know about this because it’s happening in my home state, Michigan, where reproductive rights are especially central to November’s midterm elections. A big reason for that is Proposal 3, which organizers have called the “Reproductive Freedom for All” initiative. The ballot proposal would amend the state constitution by adding language to protect reproductive rights, effectively preventing future lawmakers from passing major abortion restrictions and ― more urgently ― nullifying a 1931 law that makes abortion illegal in nearly all cases. The 1931 law is not currently in force (i.e., abortion remains legal in Michigan) because lower courts have already blocked prosecutors from bringing cases, pending a ruling from the state Supreme Court on whether the Michigan Constitution already protects abortion. Incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, both Democrats and both fierce supporters of abortion rights, have said they would use whatever authority they have to prevent its enforcement. But there’s no way to know how the state Supreme Court will rule, just as there’s no way to know whether Whitmer or Nessel will win reelection next month. Polls were picking up comfortable leads in August and September. Now they are finding closer races for both.AdvertisementProposal 3 has generally fared well in polls, but a recent one found support down to just 50% amid a burst of advertising by the initiative’s opponents. As of last week, those opponents had spent nearly $23 million, while Proposal 3 supporters had spent a little less than $16 million, according to figures collected by the tracking company AdImpact.The advertising isn’t so surprising, and if the margins are shrinking that wouldn’t be a surprise either. Change frequently makes voters nervous, and the ads try to exploit that by suggesting the amendment would, for example, invalidate existing safety regulations for abortion. The proposal’s supporters have disputed that claim ― acknowledging that the amendment, like any other, leaves some rule for judicial interpretation but noting that it explicitly allows for regulations when the state can show a “compelling” interest. Safety regulations would seem to clearly qualify, at least as long as they’re really about safety.A Bold, Tendentious ClaimBut that’s nothing compared with the new ad, which intersperses images of young children with injectable drugs and argues that Proposal 3 would allow kids to get gender-affirming care without consulting their parents.Here’s the full script:“This drug blo …

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