By Sarah Neely

Part Three: Exposing Their Extremism

In this three-part series, Operation Rescue, based in Kansas for decades, draws from its keen knowledge of the state’s pro-life history to examine how the “Value Them Both” Kansas pro-life amendment failed in 2022, analyze how that failure has radically changed the abortion landscape in a conservative state, and discern what this grim future for the Sunflower State means for the pro-life movement right now. As more dangerous state ballot initiatives succeed, and even more see abortion through all nine months cemented into state constitutions, the stakes have never been higher!

Ballot Initiatives Abound

At least four other states have succeeded in adding constitutional amendments to the November 2024 ballot: Maryland, Colorado, South Dakota and Florida. New York had a pro-abortion amendment approved, but it was thrown off the ballot in May 2024 after a procedural misstep was uncovered. More amendments are being pushed through the approval process in several other states.

If all four upcoming ballot initiatives are passed, abortion will be enshrined in the respective state constitutions. For a pro-abortion state like Colorado, very little might change – it already allows abortion through all nine months. For a state like Florida, which has just succeeded in providing legal protection for the preborn beginning when a heartbeat can be detected (usually about six weeks), the act of enshrining abortion in the state constitution would be a catastrophic event. 

“We cannot stress enough how vital it is for pro-lifers to take these amendments seriously – even if you live in a more conservative state,” says Newman. “Getting pro-life citizens to the polls is the only way to defeat these amendments. To do that, leading pro-life organizations in the state must have clear, unified messaging, and that messaging must be compelling.” 

In the summer of 2022, the main messaging for the pro-life amendment was “Value Them Both” – a slogan that has been used in other states as well. The 18-point loss margin should make it clear that this message did not resonate with pro-life voters – at least, not enough to win the day. 

“‘Value Them Both,’ while a true sentiment for pro-lifers, really springs from a place of defense, not offense,” Newman adds. “Pro-lifers are constantly accused of only caring for babies in the womb and ignoring the mother. This, of course, is miles and miles from the truth, but the abortion lobby has said it so loudly for so long that we spend a great deal of time defending our rational and compassionate position when we should be forcing the abortion side to defend its extreme and reprehensible position.

To equip pro-lifers with stronger dialogue, Operation Rescue recently published an updated edition of the booklet, Refocusing the Pro-Life Movement for Victory, which offers effective pro-life talking points geared toward winning elections and defeating ballot initiatives. 

“Every one of the talking points in this booklet focuses on exposing the extremism of the abortion lobby,” Newman adds. “Late-term abortion, patient deaths, sexual abuse in the industry – these are all documented atrocities for which the abortion lobby does not have an answer. Pro-aborts try to deflect, instead, and redirect to rare cases and emotionally-charged criticisms. We can’t let them lead the conversation like that anymore. We have to challenge the abortion lobby to defend its extremism, and we have to do it in spaces where the public can hear it.”

Putting Abortion on the Defense

Of all the pro-life initiatives that have made it to the ballot, not one pro-life amendment has won so far, and not one pro-abortion amendment has been defeated. Ohio’s pro-life efforts came the closest to success, with 43% voting against enshrining abortion in the constitution. 

Mark Harrington, leader of the highly-effective pro-life outreach group Created Equal, helped spearhead the campaign in Ohio. Besides being highly-organized with its volunteers and utilizing more efficient technology, the messaging that Created Equal helped craft aimed to put the abortion lobby on the defensive. 

Instead of trying to convince voters that pro-lifers authentically love babies or moms, the campaign focused on the extreme measures the abortion lobby could achieve if the amendment passed: painful late-term abortions, endangering minors, and removing parental rights. 

These were much stronger talking points about things that voters, especially those who were undecided, could ‘hitch their wagon to.’ For example, more than half of Americans agree late-term abortion should be illegal. 

Following the defeat in Ohio, Harrington has been very vocal about what his organization learned during the campaign, including what could have been done better. He has publicly offered to share his knowledge and methods with any pro-life group facing an amendment battle in its own state.

On his podcast, Harrington recently aired a hopeful but solemn episode featuring Dr. Michael New, an associate scholar of the Charlotte-Lozier Institute and expert analyst. New detailed the current landscape surrounding these amendments, including current polling. He pointed out that, while the media might emphasize unsettling poll numbers – like 56% of Florida voters saying they will vote in favor of the pro-abortion amendment – the pro-life movement should focus more on the level of support. While 56% is the majority, it is not the 60% of the vote needed to pass the amendment in Florida. There is hope there. 

“I think pro-lifers should be concerned, but not despairing,” Dr. New says in the interview. “I think when you look at the polling data a bit more carefully, a different picture emerges…when you look at the level of support, some pro-life victories are within reach.”

Such victories, however, will require careful attention, unrelenting effort, and better strategies than many pro-life campaigns have offered so far. 

Voters need to know something they care about is at stake or in danger – rather than feeling reassured that the pro-life movement cares about women and children. The average American may not yet understand the tragic loss of a human life when an abortion is performed at 12 weeks, but many do take a step back at the idea of a child painfully aborted at eight or nine months – something every single one of these pro-abortion amendments will allow while dismantling any state laws previously established. 

As Ohio demonstrated, that’s the kind of talking point pro-lifers can use to win.  

At the end of his podcast, Harrington called this moment in history “the mother of all battles,” emphasizing how crucial it is to have every pro-life citizen and leader committing time and resources to these amendment wars. Kansans, especially, know the consequences losing these battles will carry. 

Newman adds, “The current state of Kansas is more than a cautionary tale. It’s a desperate warning for America and the pro-life movement as a whole. In this election year, pro-lifers must challenge the abortion lobby’s false narrative. No matter what rhetoric they try to wrap around it, these amendments aim to open the door for unfettered abortion through all nine months. 

“‘Abortion for any reason at any stage’ is the true mantra of the abortion industry as it works to snuff out as many preborn lives as it can for as much money as women or the government will dish out. That is the extremism of this movement – which most Americans do not uphold. That is the agenda we must successfully expose.”

ICYMI, you can also read Part One here and Part Two here.

This report may be republished with inclusion of the following acknowledgement: “This article was originally published by Operation Rescue, a leading pro-life, Christian activist organization dedicated to exposing abortion abuses, demanding enforcement, saving innocent lives, and building an abortion-free America. The author, Sarah Neely, is Project Coordinator for Operation Rescue.”