I never thought we would talk about Kansas as one of the most significant bellwether states for abortion rights, but here we are. Voters in Kansas had a choice on their primary ballots this week: vote for or against a proposed state constitutional amendment which would have authorized the state government to ban or regulate abortion. The proposed amendment failed with voters. It’s almost as if… voters around the country are extremely engaged and prepared to get out the vote solely on securing abortion rights.
In the first abortion-related election since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Kansas voters have rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have specified that the right to terminate a pregnancy isn’t protected. Though votes are still being counted, Decision Desk HQ determined that the amendment has failed, preserving access to abortion in a state that has emerged as a regional destination for the procedure.
The Supreme Court’s reversal of federal abortion protections has put new focus on state courts and constitutions. In Kansas, the state Supreme Court held in 2019 that their constitution guarantees the right to an abortion — a ruling that has barred state legislators from passing laws that might ban or heavily restrict access to the procedure. Right now, abortion in Kansas is legal up until 22 weeks of pregnancy.
The Kansas amendment was voted on during a summer primary with no competitive Democratic contest and in a midterm year that is otherwise likely to favor Republicans, who typically oppose abortion rights. That scheduling had initially raised eyebrows in Kansas.
“It’s very obvious the side that wants to overturn the court decision — which would be a ‘yes’ — deliberately put this on the August vote thinking it would turn in their favor,” Michael Smith, a political science professor at Emporia State University, told The 19th prior to the election. Instead, it appears that the national Roe decision has energized abortion rights supporters, including those in Kansas. National Democrats are counting on that energy in this November’s midterm elections, particularly in Senate races in states such as Nevada, New Hampshire and Wisconsin. It could also hold sway in Kansas, where Gov. Laura Kelly — a Democrat who has vetoed abortion restrictions — is in a tight race for reelection.
The 19th points out that a similar amendment is on the ballot in Kentucky in November, and voters in California and Vermont will get to decide whether abortion rights are codified in their state constitutions. Here in Virginia, if our racist trashbag governor gets a Republican majority in the state legislature, he’s going to try to ban abortion too. Remember all of the “internet activists” whining about the message to “vote”? Point to this Kansas election. Point to all of these state elections. Point to all of the gubernatorial races and the g–damn midterms.
A bunch of people voted in Kansas today and now abortion access is protected in that state. Don’t let people who spend too much time on the internet tell you that voting doesn’t matter.
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) August 3, 2022
Photos courtesy of Instar, Getty.