Kansas Voters Reject Effort To Eliminate State Abortion Protections

This story was originally published by The 19th

Shefali Luthra

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 vote could offer a preview into whether and how the Roe decision could shape state elections this fall, tilting the balance in favor of voters who support abortion rights.

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.

A similar constitutional amendment is on the ballot this November in Kentucky, which is currently enforcing a total abortion ban. Montana residents will vote on whether to grant legal rights for infants “born alive after an abortion” — something that almost never actually happens and is already addressed by existing federal law. Voters in California and Vermont will weigh in on whether to codify abortion protections in their state constitutions.

Read the entire story at The 19th.

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