Pink Wave: Women Rise Up For Reproductive Rights, And Big Lie Supporters Fight To Stop Them

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The Kansas abortion rights referendum was not just a test of public attitudes about reproductive rights: it was a test of democracy.

The Republican organizers behind the bill were no doubt aware of strong polling showing a large majority of Americans support abortion rights, and therefore went to great lengths to ensure that the general public did not vote. on the prohibition of abortion. in the state. So they timed the ballot initiative during the August primary, when few Democrats turned out to vote, even though other ballot initiatives are scheduled for November choice. They made the ballot initiative language confusing, so pro-choice people could accidentally vote for the ban. And they blanketed the airwaves with misleading ads designed to trick pro-choice voters into voting for the ban.

None of that worked.

Pro-abortion activists in the state worked tirelessly to register and convert voters, as well as educate them on how to reject the abortion ban, despite the confusing wording. In fact, the vote was not even close, with nearly 60% of voters rejecting the abortion ban. A large part of the voters were independents who did not even vote in the primary elections, they only showed up to give their opinion in the electoral referendum.

But instead of accepting this democratic outcome, the Conservatives are becoming even more hardened against democracy.

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What began with Republicans dismissing the election as a true reflection of voters’ wishes soon turned into conservatives reinterpreting Donald Trump’s Big Lie, that the 2020 election was “rigged” against him, to argue that something fishy must have happened in order for the Kansas result to occur. They forced a recount of the abortion vote. Recounts, which are expensive and time-consuming, tend to happen only when elections are close. The abortion ban, however, lost by an 18-point margin, so there was no chance a recount would change things. Yet, as the Kansas City Star reportsthe recount was authorized at the request of Melissa Leavitt, a Big Lie advocate who brought Trump conspiracy theories to the Kansas state legislature in 2020. Along with Mark Gietzen, a hardline opponent of reproductive rights, they raised nearly $120,000 for the recount. As expected, it did nothing to change the result. However, Leavitt and Gietzen are using the recount as the basis for what appears to be a larger push to harass anyone who dares to vote against the state’s abortion ban.

“The next step is to check the records of people who say they voted,” Gietzen told the Star.

He promised that he “will be visiting the homes” of said voters. The pretext is “to see if anyone lives there”, but of course, the real purpose is clearly intimidating. This is not just a guess. Gietzen has long practiced the policy of personalized intimidation. He has spent years parking outside abortion clinics.Approaching patients trying to get in, writing information about them, and repeatedly filing annoying police reports to waste clinic workers’ time.

The adoption of Trump’s Big Lie rhetoric by anti-choice activists is likely to only get worse from now on. As political data analyst Tom Bonier pointed out last week, the overturning of Roe v. Wade is sparking an unprecedented surge in female voter registration.

Abortion policy in Kansas has been particularly prominent, due to a state constitution that protects the right to abortion, which is what the ballot measure sought to repeal.

The gender gap is the reason President Joe Biden won in 2020, since Biden performed 12 points better with women than with men. If it were just up to male voters, Trump would have won handily, as 53% of men voted for Trump while 57% of women voted for Biden. The gender gap in new registrations is likely to cause the gap to grow. With his conspiracy theories about “rigged” elections, Trump has given anti-abortion activists a pretext to undermine democratic efforts to protect abortion rights.

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Opposition to abortion was already at the root of much of the domestic terrorism. Clinic shootings and bombings in recent decades have resulted in 11 deaths of clinic workers and patients. However, in the aftermath of January 6 and Trump’s continued implicit promotion of political violence, the use of terrorist tactics has expanded beyond clinics. Gietzen’s insinuation that he will come to “investigate” pro-choice voters, for example, is not an isolated one. As Kathryn Joyce reported for Salon, in the wake of the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, pro-choice activists were subjected to violence at the hands of police and civilians. While Fox News ran misleading stories accusing pro-choice people of violence, in reality, pro-choice activists were beaten, beaten and, in at least one case, hit by a car.

The gender gap is the reason President Joe Biden won in 2020.

The Proud Boys, who were deeply involved in the January 6 insurrection, have taken up the cause of silencing and intimidating reproductive rights advocates. Anti-choice activists have started inviting Proud Boys to band together as “security”, using false claims of alleged threats from abortion supporters as justification for taking violent stances. What the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) recently documented, “Abortion-related events involving far-right militias and militant social movements like Proud Boys increased by 150% in 2021 relative to 2020, and 2022 has already seen a 90% increase compared to 2021” . Demonstrations where people appear armed tripled from 2020 to 2021. Researchers found that when weapons are on the scene, demonstrations turn “violent or destructive 40% of the time,” compared to 0.2% of the time when there are no weapons.

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Since January 6, the anti-democratic organization has become more intense and effective.

Advocates of the Big Lie are winning Republican primaries in campaigns based on promises to overturn any election result that goes against the preferences of Republican voters. Under the banner of Big Lie-style conspiracy theories, right-wing sheriffs across the country are organizing campaigns to intimidate people not to vote in 2024. As the Kansas count shows, even a landslide election does little to curb conspiracy theories about “rigged” elections. That is evidence that these conspiracy theories are not really about a sincere belief that elections are being stolen, but simply a pretext to undermine free and fair elections.

For Trump, January 6 and his subsequent unsubtle incitements to violence are largely due to his ego. But while his supporters have a very cult-like quality, ultimately the reason his supporters take his anti-democratic attitude isn’t just to make a man feel good about himself. He returns to the fact that Republican views and policies are unpopular with the general public. They can’t win at the ballot box, so a growing number of Republicans are looking for ways to impose their will outside of democratic means. Legal abortion is perhaps the clearest proof of this, as Republicans seem determined to ban it no matter what voters say.