Ohio and Virginia Republicans Are Lying About, Well, Everything to Get People to Vote Against Abortion

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin are getting personally involved in misleading efforts to turn out anti-abortion voters.

Ohio and Virginia Republicans Are Lying About, Well, Everything to Get People to Vote Against Abortion
Gov. DeWine and Gov. Youngkin. Photo:Getty (Getty Images)

Elections next month could decide the fate of abortion access in both Ohio and Virginia—and conservative politicians and activists are working overtime to try to mislead people about what’s at stake.

In Ohio, voters will decide on a ballot measure that would protect abortion in the state constitution, while in Virginia, every seat in the statehouse is up for election and, if Republicans gain a trifecta, they will move to pass a 15-week abortion ban. (Virginia is the last state in the South not to restrict abortion at or before 12 weeks.) Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) are getting personally involved in efforts to turn out anti-abortion voters, with DeWine actually appearing in an ad and Youngkin’s PAC spending $1.4 million on ads falsely claiming that his party isn’t pushing for a ban.

DeWine did the ad for the anti-abortion group Protect Women Ohio, where he sat alongside his wife, First Lady Fran DeWine, to explain why they oppose Issue 1. (The pro-choice position is to vote “yes.”) Fran says it’s because “it would allow an abortion at any time during a pregnancy.” The Governor says whether people are pro-choice or pro-life, the ballot measure is “just not right for Ohio.”

What they fail to mention in the ad is that DeWine signed a six-week abortion ban in 2019—a ban that the state Supreme Court could let take effect at any time. If Issue 1 passes, it would invalidate that ban, but if it fails? It looks extremely likely that abortion will be banned after six weeks of pregnancy, which is before many people know they’re pregnant. (The ban was in effect for 82 days last year, and it was during that time that a 10-year-old rape survivor had to travel to Indiana to get an abortion.)

It’s a lie of omission, and the DeWines aren’t the only ones in Ohio leaving out this crucial context. Cleveland.com reports that groups who’ve supported the six-week ban in the past have, in the final weeks until Election Day, “begun to act like it doesn’t exist.” Anti-abortion advocates are instead telling voters that abortion is legal through 22 weeks, which is only true for now.

“These extreme anti-abortion politicians know they are out of step with Ohio voters and can’t win unless they lie, cheat, and rig the rules,” Gabriel Mann, a spokesperson for Ohioans United for Reproductive Rights, told Cleveland.com.

The anti-abortion group Students for Life told people at Ohio State University last week that voting against Issue 1—which is, again, the anti-abortion position—“would keep abortion accessible up to 21 weeks and six days.” Politico reported that the group didn’t mention the six-week ban or its status in court. State Rep. Josh Williams (R) has also touted this disinformation, by telling people that “current Ohio law” protects abortion up to 22 weeks so there’s no reason to support Issue 1. The night before the state Supreme Court held a hearing on the six-week ban, Williams posted this graphic, which ends with “don’t buy their lie.” That’s rich coming from someone ignoring the much stricter ban that could snap into place!

Meanwhile, Ohio Right to Life is acting online like a possible 6-week ban wouldn’t affect care for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, because they claim these scenarios are different than “elective” abortions. But we know from many unfortunate horror stories that abortion bans with exceptions for the life of the mother have still resulted in women and pregnant people almost dying from hospitals withholding care. The group’s solution for ectopic pregnancy is invasive surgery to remove a fallopian tube, rather than the standard of care, which is an injection—surgery is usually only needed if the tube has ruptured.

All of this rhetorical gymnastics comes after state lawmakers tried to thwart the ballot measure’s chances of passing in the first place, by attempting to raise the threshold for passage from 50% to 60%. That effort failed earlier this year, so Issue 1 only needs a simple majority to pass.

And in Virginia, Gov. Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC is spending millions on an ad that’s running on cable, streaming, and digital media. The ad claims it’s “disinformation” to say Republicans support an abortion ban because the proposed 15-week ban is actually “a reasonable 15-week limit.” Nope, sorry, that’s a ban on abortion after 15 weeks and no abortion ban is reasonable. But of course, Republicans claim the other party is lying: “We’re not going to let progressive liberal left lie to win an election,” Dave Rexrode, chairman of Spirit of Virginia, told NBC News. What’s worse, some GOP lawmakers are hiding the ball, because they want to ban abortion even earlier than 15 weeks, and Youngkin said last year that he would sign “any bill…in order to protect life.”

Youngkin is trying to paint Democrats as extreme on abortion rather than admit to the simple fact that a 15-week ban is still a ban. He’s taking a page directly from the national group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life American, which calls the proposal for a nationwide 15-week ban a “minimum standard”—a deceptive phrase that some outlets are more than happy to parrot. Should the effort work in Virginia, it could boost Youngkin’s profile as a future leader for the GOP, and become the playbook for Republican presidential candidates to sell a federal abortion ban to the public.

The moral of the story in both states is that Republicans are desperate to pass even more restrictions on abortion, and they’ll say almost anything to make that a reality. It’s up to voters to see through their misleading rhetoric.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin