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Kansas votes to preserve abortion rights in first post-Roe v. Wade election test

World Aug 03, 2022 11:56PM ET
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3/3 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Yard sign urges residents to vote on an amendment to Kansas' constitution that would assert there is no right to abortion, in Wichita, Kansas, U.S., July 11, 2022. REUTERS/Gabriella Borter/File Photo 2/3

By Gabriella Borter

(Reuters) - Kansas voters on Tuesday rejected an effort to remove abortion protections from the state's constitution, a resounding win for the abortion rights movement in the first statewide electoral test since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The amendment's failure in the conservative state lifted Democrats' hopes that the issue of abortion rights will draw voters to the party in November's midterm elections even as they worry about surging inflation.

The result also will prevent Kansas' Republican-led legislature from passing severe abortion restrictions in the state, which has become a key abortion access point for America's heartland.

"This should be a real wake-up call for abortion opponents," said Neal Allen, a political science professor at Wichita State University. "When a total ban looks like a possibility, then you're going to get a lot of people to turn out and you're going to lose a lot of the more moderate supporters of abortion restrictions."

Political analysts had expected the Kansas amendment to pass, given that Republicans typically turn out in greater numbers for the state's primary elections than Democrats and independents.

But Tuesday's vote drew higher-than-expected turnout. With 98% of the vote counted, 59% of voters favored preserving abortion rights compared to nearly 41% who supported removing abortion protections from the state constitution, according to Edison Research.

"This is a titanic result for Kansas politics," said Allen.

Kansas' ballot initiative is the first of several that will ask U.S. voters to weigh in on abortion rights this year. Kentucky, California, Vermont and possibly Michigan will have abortion on the ballot this fall.

The successful "vote no" campaign in Kansas could offer a blueprint to abortion rights groups looking to harness voter energy in the wake of Roe's reversal, Allen said.

U.S. President Joe Biden joined Democrats across the country in applauding the results on Tuesday.

"This vote makes clear what we know: The majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions," Biden said in a statement.

A statewide survey released by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University in February showed most Kansas residents did not support a total abortion ban.

Sixty percent disagreed that abortion should be completely illegal, and 50.5% said, "The Kansas government should not place any regulations on the circumstances under which women can get abortions."

Kansas Republicans had been pushing for a state constitutional amendment to eliminate abortion rights since 2019, when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the state constitution protected the right to abortion.

As a result of the ruling, Kansas has maintained more lenient policies than other conservative neighbors. The state allows abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy with several restrictions, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and mandatory parental consent for minors.

HIGH STAKES IN NOVEMBER

Patients travel to Kansas for abortions from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and other states that have banned the procedure almost entirely since the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

A spokesperson for the Trust Women abortion clinic in Wichita said 60% of their abortion patients are from out of state.

Tuesday's referendum drew national attention and money. The Value Them Both Association, which supported the amendment, raised about $4.7 million this year, about two-thirds of that from regional Catholic dioceses, according to campaign finance data.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the main coalition opposing the amendment, raised about $6.5 million, including more than $1 million from Planned Parenthood groups.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a national anti-abortion group, said it spent $1.4 million to promote the amendment and canvassed 250,000 homes in Kansas.

“Tonight’s loss is a huge disappointment for pro-life Kansans and Americans nationwide,” said Mallory Carroll, a spokesperson for the group. "The stakes for the pro-life movement in the upcoming midterm elections could not be higher."

Kansas votes to preserve abortion rights in first post-Roe v. Wade election test
 

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Comments (8)
gab nea
gab nea Aug 05, 2022 9:04AM ET
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the Republicans want to import apartheid like south Africa, where the minority whites rule tha majority. back to the past.
gab nea
gab nea Aug 05, 2022 9:02AM ET
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the Republican stacked supreme court is out of touch with the majority of americans. there is no more respect for that court among the populace. the court turned to the crazy right. term limit them!
First Last
First Last Aug 04, 2022 10:53AM ET
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Some issues should NOT be decided by the majority, especially issues that don't significantly affect everyone.  If I want to have white wine w/ my steak or a tattoo, you guys *******out.  During the Salem witch trials, the majority were crazy religious fanatics who were for burning/drowning the minority.  That minority's right to decide if their bodies should be burned/drowned should've trumped the majority's preference.
Maximus Maximus
Maximus Maximus Aug 04, 2022 12:24AM ET
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Good. A slap in the face of the GOP-the American taliban
Forex Harbingers
ForexHarbingers Aug 03, 2022 12:26PM ET
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Exactly how it should be. Let the Peoples majority in each state decide what they want.
Robert smith
Robert smith Aug 03, 2022 12:26PM ET
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If republicans and evangelicals wanted real democracy they wouldn't have spent the last couple of decades trying to figure out how the minority could run everyone else's life. Its what they are all about. 5 percent of the people who claim the RIGHT to own military assault weapons and great easy access to them for mass murderers, make the laws not the 75 percent who think its crazy. But I love that anti abortionist saying "the stakes couldn't be higher for them in 2022 " what stakes? you just LOST 2022 by showing everyone the kind of police state you would force them to live in if you retained power. ITS OVER for republicans. And it serves them right for forgetting that the constituition doesnt just protect THEIR rights.
Steffen vdm
Steffen vdm Aug 03, 2022 12:26PM ET
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Let each woman decide what she wants
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 03, 2022 12:26PM ET
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"Let the Peoples majority in each state decide what they want."  -- wasn't that the exact argument from the segregationists in the South to preserve segregation???
First Last
First Last Aug 03, 2022 10:18AM ET
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'Sixty percent disagreed that ****should be completely illegal, and 50.5% said, "The Kansas government should not place any regulations on the circumstances under which women can get abortions."' --  Great to see the Republicans' attempt to steamroll over the will of Kansans is thwarted, for now.  The silent majority was not so silent.
Jon Gr
Jon Gr Aug 03, 2022 12:59AM ET
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Imagine that. Powers not granted by the Constitution returned to be decided by the States…and the Earth didnt stop turning.
WESLEY WARREN
WSQUARED Aug 03, 2022 12:59AM ET
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it was about that money
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Aug 03, 2022 12:59AM ET
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"Powers not granted by the Constitution returned to be decided by the State"  -- I think we fought a Civil War 180 years ago to decide how valid that statement is.....
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Aug 03, 2022 12:59AM ET
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You and I usually agree, but be careful... The Ninth Amendment supports progressive states too. The key is to balance state laws with the precept that, under no circumstances, may the majority opinion of a state trample the rights of others.
John Laurens
John Laurens Aug 02, 2022 8:22PM ET
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It's really time to stop being barbaric.
Robert smith
Robert smith Aug 02, 2022 8:22PM ET
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It's really time to put the catholic and evangelical tyrants BACK in their half empty churches where they can pedal all the KoolAid their mindless followers can drink, but they can't force US to drink it.  We need religion back OUT of politics. And losing the 2022 election because they let them convince you that THEY were still running everyones lives in this country, will be a lesson republicans won't soon forget. Separation of church and state is in the constitution for a reason. Religious tyranny is what the first Americans came here to be RID of.
John Laurens
John Laurens Aug 02, 2022 8:22PM ET
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Robert smith  Except this has nothing to do with religion. The vast majority of people opposed to late term abortions are not of faith. Nice try though.
 
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