The Conservative party is focusing on Ohio in an attempt to break their losing streak on voting for abortion-related issues.

Anti-abortion organizations are counting on Ohio to put an end to the streak of state-level defeats for the movement, and to establish a strategy for future conflicts in 2024 and beyond.

In four weeks, citizens of Ohio will vote on whether to include abortion protections in the state constitution or become the first to reject a pro-choice measure since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade.

“Ohio is the first of a lot to come in the year ahead,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini, who flew to Ohio last week for a rally against the referendum. “That’s why we’re looking even more closely at Ohio: It could easily set the standard.”

Last year, six states held referendums on abortion. The anti-abortion side lost in all six states, including traditionally conservative Kansas, Kentucky, and Montana, by a significant margin. This trend continued this year, with abortion being a major factor in state supreme court races and special elections, resulting in victories for those who support abortion rights.

As early voting commences on Wednesday, the anti-abortion movement is working hard in Ohio to avoid having the upcoming referendum add to the belief that being against abortion rights is detrimental to conservative causes. They are organizing rallies, canvassing, making phone calls, and running ads on various media platforms in an effort to make a difference.

The conservative party views the Ohio referendum as a predictor for the 2024 election, where the issue of abortion rights may also appear on the ballots in Arizona, Florida, and Missouri. This topic will play a significant role in the Democratic party’s campaign to maintain control of the presidency and gain various state and federal positions.

“Ohio is a classic test market state,” said Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican seeking the nomination to challenge Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown

In the upcoming year, individuals are aware that if their product is successful in Ohio, it has the potential to be sold in other locations as well. This same reasoning can also be applied to politics.

Certain government officials admitted that their goal was to create obstacles for the abortion-rights referendum. Although this attempt was unsuccessful, they proceeded to name the November proposal “Issue 1,” which is the same title as the amendment that was recently voted against in August.

During a recent event at The Ohio State University, students were seen speaking with anti-abortion activists who were distributing flyers and promoting their cause. Many of the students seemed unsure about the ongoing referendum, with some unaware of its existence and others inquiring about the differences between the August special election and the upcoming November contest.

LaRose’s office made changes to the summary of the ballot that was originally proposed by the pro-abortion campaign. They replaced the term “fetus” with “unborn child” and only mentioned abortion, even though the amendment also prohibits state involvement in contraception, fertility treatments, and other reproductive health choices. Supporters of abortion rights criticized the revisions as deliberately confusing and misleading, and took legal action against the state. However, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld most of the changes in a ruling made in mid-September.

In an interview, LaRose stated that the language we created is easily understandable and clearly outlines the contents of this constitutional amendment for Ohio residents. He found it absurd that the opposing side had an issue with the use of “fetus” versus “unborn child.” He explained that “fetus” is a Latin term meaning offspring, therefore, it is synonymous with “unborn child.” LaRose expressed gratitude for the court’s validation of this understanding.

Those against abortion are aiming to secure victories by targeting voting groups that they believe have been overlooked by their opponents in other states, such as college students, communities of color, and individuals who are pro-choice.

According to Aaron Baer, president of the Center for Christian Virtue, their focus is on persuasion rather than solely increasing voter turnout. The group, which is part of a coalition opposing the amendment, aims to reach a diverse audience with their messaging. This includes addressing topics where there is public unease, even among progressive individuals, such as late-term abortions and minors obtaining abortions without parental knowledge or consent.

During his speech at a March for Life rally, Ohio’s Lt. Gov. Jon Husted urged conservatives to embrace this approach. He encouraged the large crowd in attendance to engage with those who hold differing opinions and stressed the significance of persuading supporters of abortion rights that rejecting the proposed amendment only means that the legislature can continue to address the issue.

“There will be a procedure. This will not mark the conclusion, ” Husted stated to journalists after delivering his speech. “We must overcome this and continue discussing what the appropriate policies should be.”

The temporary ban on abortions in the state, lasting six weeks, has been halted. However, Republican authorities are attempting to reverse this decision and the ban may be reinstated at any point. At a recent rally, legislators in Ohio suggested that if they were to reexamine the state’s abortion laws, they would aim to make them even stricter rather than more lenient.

On Friday, State Senator Kristina Roegner, a member of the Republican party, began her speech by enthusiastically stating to the audience that she holds the belief that life begins at conception and advocates for a complete prohibition.

She stated to POLITICO that we should safeguard everyone we are able to at every point in our lives.

Anti-abortion groups are taking a similar message as Husted’s to Ohio students in an effort to chip away at one of abortion-rights supporters’ most reliable voting blocs.

While interacting with several Ohio State students for four hours on Monday, members and supporters of Students for Life of America informed them that voting against the amendment would maintain the availability of abortion for up to 21 weeks and six days, while voting in favor of the amendment would end the discussion.

The state’s six-week ban and its legal status were not mentioned.

The revised statement ensures that abortion remains legal up until the point of fetal viability, which typically occurs around 22 to 24 weeks into a pregnancy. After this point, exceptions may be made if doctors determine that there is a risk to the health of the mother. During a discussion on Monday, members of Students for Life expressed concern that doctors may misuse these exceptions, with one person stating, “They could fabricate any reason.”

Students for Life organized about 15 events at various public, private, and community colleges in Ohio, including an upcoming tabling at a high school football game to reach potential voters who will be 18 by election day. At Franciscan University, the group registered over 150 students to vote and recruited several to canvass against the proposed amendment during their fall break. At Ohio State, some students who previously expressed support for abortion rights changed their stance after hearing from the group that the amendment would permit abortions for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

A letter has been released, signed by over 100 Black pastors and other religious leaders, calling on their communities to “send a powerful message to the abortion industry by halting Issue 1.”

“Previously, this problem was often viewed as primarily affecting white, Caucasian individuals,” stated Edmonds. “However, in Ohio, we are determined to thoroughly investigate all avenues. We are actively seeking out all pro-life individuals, including those within the African American community, as we recognize that pro-life beliefs are deeply rooted in our history.”

Leaders within the Black community who support the amendment for abortion rights were displeased with this description. They expressed to POLITICO that the community is diverse and they are certain that a majority will be in favor of safeguarding the right to undergo the procedure.

According to Beulah Osueke, interim executive director of New Voices for Reproductive Justice, Black individuals view this issue as a fight for freedom, liberation, and the right to make decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities. As descendants of those who were brought to this country without autonomy, it is clear that this history has shaped their determination to prevent laws that limit their bodily autonomy.

Oseuke and her coworkers have initiated their own outreach campaign, called Issue 1, to reach out to Black barbershops and salons, as well as popular social media platforms among students of color.

She stated that our goal is to serve as a reliable and dependable source of information for individuals, rather than only appearing during elections and then disappearing.

Oseuke and other advocates for abortion access are hopeful that Ohio will follow the trend of states with conservative and moderate political leanings enacting laws to protect abortion rights, despite concerns about potential confusion among voters.

In a poll conducted by the USA TODAY Network and Suffolk University in July, it was discovered that almost 60% of voters in Ohio were in favor of the abortion-rights proposal, while just over 32% were against it and 10% were undecided. The survey also revealed that voters of color showed even stronger support at 66%.

At a rally on Sunday in Cleveland, supporters were optimistic and energetic despite the harsh cold winds from Lake Erie. Campaign leaders assured them that victory was within reach.

“We’re in control now. We beat their sneaky election in August and we’ll beat their efforts to suppress us in November,” Thakkilapati told the crowd. “We can do this. We got this on the ballot and we’re going to win.”