Voters in Kansas support the state’s legalization of abortion
In a decision widely viewed as a success for abortion rights campaigners, Kansas voters on Tuesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have removed language enshrining reproductive rights in their state.
Since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade in June, the proposed amendment was the first time that voters anywhere in the United States had the opportunity to vote on abortion.
Voters were asked to decide on a ballot measure known as the “Value Them Both Amendment,” which would have kept abortion rights protected under the state constitution. Abortion rights advocates claimed that the outcome of the proposed amendment to the state Constitution, which would have removed language that guarantees reproductive rights and asked voters if they prefer to leave the decision regarding abortion in the hands of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature, was almost certain to lead to the elimination or restriction of those rights.
The right to an abortion would be eliminated from the state constitution and returned to the state legislature if the measure passed with a “yes” vote. Abortion rights will remain established in the state Constitution with a “no” vote on the proposal.
The Kansas ballot question, according to anti-abortion advocates, offered a chance to put the matter in the hands of the voters through duly elected state legislators. Supporters of abortion rights cautioned that if the ballot initiative passed, existing rights would almost likely be eliminated or restricted in a state with more forgiving laws than many of its neighbours.
The ballot issue had been planned for more than a year, but in the weeks following the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in June, which ended the federal constitution’s right to an abortion, it gained more relevance.
Scott Schwab, the secretary of state for Kansas, reported “extremely strong turnout” at the state’s polls on Tuesday night.
Early voting began in the state in mid-July, and according to Schwab’s office, as of last Tuesday, more voters had already voted early than at the same period in the 2018 midterm primary election. Both sides of the argument spent millions of dollars advertising on Kansas radio and television.
The majority of Americans think that women should have access to abortion and the freedom to make their own health care decisions, according to President Joe Biden, who stated that the vote “makes clear what we know.”
The vote “signals to Kansas and the rest of the country that Americans value reproductive freedom and will fight to maintain it,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America in a statement praising the outcome.
Mini Timmaraju, the group’s president, declared that “reproductive freedom is a winning topic, now and in November.” “Anti-choice lawmakers take note: The voters have spoken, and they will show up to vote against proposals to restrict reproductive freedom,” the statement reads.
More Deatails (Kansas)
Additionally, proponents of abortion rights asserted that a number of circumstances, including as the wording and timing of the ballot question, were working against them.
For starters, they have voiced worry over the ballot measure’s alleged use of language that was intended to mislead voters. For instance, the wording on the ballot said that, despite the absence of any such requirement, a “yes” vote would affirm that “the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion” and “does not create or ensure a right to abortion.” The 2019 court decision has limited parliamentarians’ ability to pass laws about abortion, therefore a “yes” vote would have confirmed that “the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws addressing abortion.”
Supporters of abortion rights voted against the proposals, maintaining the status quo.
Voters apparently got false text messages on election day telling them that voting “yes” would safeguard their right to an abortion, according to reports. It’s unknown who is in charge of disseminating the message.
Pro-abortion activists condemned the action. Ashley All, a representative for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, said: “This is yet another illustration of the desperate and dishonest methods of the Value Them Both campaign, lying to the citizens of Kansas.”
The Consider Them Coalition both denied having anything to do with the communication.
Proponents of abortion rights have claimed that now that Roe has been overturned, the stakes are too high to leave the decision to state GOP lawmakers. They cite numerous recently introduced proposals that would limit or outlaw abortion, including one that was introduced in March, and claim that if the Kansas ballot measure is successful, these bills would undoubtedly be reintroduced in following state legislature sessions.
Opponents of abortion, however, contend that letting the people determine the matter through their elected officials is a more democratic approach.
Republican state Rep. Tory Marie Arnberger, who supported the measure and worked to get it on the August ballot, recently told NBC News that “this is not an abortion prohibition.” “I support having individualised abortion laws in each state. Since Roe v. Wade has been reversed, every state now has the legal authority to legalise abortion, and I believe it is up to each state legislature to determine what is best for their state, she continued.
The results on Tuesday, according to Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan, were “an huge defeat to efforts to safeguard the sanctity of life in Kansas.”
According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion is permitted up until roughly the 22nd week of pregnancy in Kansas. According to state law, women seeking abortion care must abide by a number of restrictions, including a 24-hour waiting time before the procedure and parental consent for minors.
Even yet, the regulations are significantly less onerous than those in the states next to us. Following the Supreme Court decision in late June that effectively outlawed almost all abortion treatment in those states, laws that were almost immediately put into force in Missouri and Oklahoma.
At least 22 states have already outlawed abortion or will do so shortly. The new environment makes Kansas a regional outlier and a safe refuge for out-of-state and local women seeking abortion treatment, but if the proposal passes, those benefits would be reduced or eliminated.