Kansas voters protect abortion rights and block path to ban

Kansas voters protected abortion rights by rejecting a measure that would have allowed the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten abortion restrictions.

TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas voters on Tuesday sent a resounding message about their desire to protect abortion rights, rejecting a ballot measure in a conservative state with deep ties to the anti-abortion movement that would allow the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten restrictions. or ban the procedure altogether.

It was the first test of voter sentiment since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June to strike down a constitutional right to abortion, with an unexpected result that has potential implications for the upcoming midterm elections.

Even though it was just one state, the turnout in the usually Republican-leaning August primary was a major victory for abortion rights advocates and offered a glimmer of hope for Democrats trying to turn the game around in an election year filled with otherwise bleak omens for Democrats nationwide. For their own prospects in November.

He also admonished Republicans who celebrated the Supreme Court decision and moved quickly with abortion bans or near-bans in about half of the states.

“Kansans have clearly rejected attempts by anti-abortion politicians to create a reproductive police state,” said Kimberly Inez McGuire, executive director of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity. “Today’s vote was a strong rebuke and a promise of increased resistance.”

A proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution would add language stating that it does not grant abortion rights. A 2019 state Supreme Court ruling declared access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state’s Bill of Rights, preventing the ban and potentially derailing legislative efforts to enact new restrictions.

The referendum was closely watched as a barometer of liberal and moderate voters’ anger at the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down nationwide abortion rights.

The measure’s failure was also significant because of Kansas’ ties to anti-abortion activists. In 1991, the anti-abortion “Summer of Mercy” protests inspired abortion opponents to take over the Kansas Republican Party and make the Legislature more conservative. They were there because Dr. George Tiller’s clinic was among the few in the United States that performed late-term abortions, and he was murdered in 2009 by an anti-abortion extremist.

Anti-abortion lawmakers wanted the vote to coincide with the state’s August primary, saying they wanted to make sure it was in the spotlight, though others saw it as a clear attempt to boost their chances of winning. In the decade leading up to Tuesday’s election, twice as many Republicans voted in the state’s August primary as Democrats.

Tuesday’s voter turnout was uncharacteristic of a Kansas primary, especially since tens of thousands of voters turned out.

Kansas Republican Party Chairman Mike Kukkelman said opponents of the proposed amendment have been effective in framing it as a ban. But he predicted that Kansas would become an abortion hotspot, and that voters would not object.

“This issue will come up again,” he said during an interview with KSNT-TV.

Kansas City-area teacher and unaffiliated voter Kristy Winter, 52, voted against the measure and brought her 16-year-old daughter with her to the polls.

“I want him to have the right to do what he thinks is necessary, mainly in the case of rape or consanguinity,” he said. “I want him to have the same rights that my mother has had for most of her life.”

Opponents of the measure predicted that anti-abortion groups and lawmakers behind the measure would quickly push for an abortion ban if voters approved it. Before the vote, supporters of the measure declined to say whether they would implement the ban, as it appeals to voters who support both some restrictions and some access to abortion.

Stephanie Kostreva, a 40-year-old school nurse from the Kansas City area and a Democrat, said she voted in favor of the measure because she is a Christian and believes life begins at conception.

“I’m not full-scale that there should never be an abortion,” she said. “I know there are emergency services and there’s no reason for two people to die when the mother’s life is in danger.”

An anonymous group sent a misleading text to Kansas voters Monday telling them to vote “yes” to preserve the option, but it was suspended late Monday from the Twilio messaging platform it uses, a spokeswoman said. Twilio has not identified the sender.

In 2019, a Kansas Supreme Court ruling protecting abortion rights blocked a law that would have banned the most common second-trimester procedure, and another law that imposed special health regulations on abortion providers was also halted. Opponents of abortion argued that all existing state restrictions were at stake, although some lawyers found this argument questionable. Kansas does not prohibit most abortions until the 22nd week of pregnancy.

The Kansas vote is the start of a long series of legal battles where lawmakers are more conservative on abortion than governors or state courts. Kentucky will vote in November on whether to add language similar to Kansas’ to the state constitution.

Meanwhile, Vermont will decide in November whether to add an abortion rights provision to its constitution. A similar question will likely be on Michigan’s November ballot.

In Kansas, both parties have spent more than $14 million on their campaigns combined. Abortion providers and abortion rights groups were major donors to the no side, while Catholic dioceses heavily funded the yes campaign.

The state has had a strong anti-abortion majority in its legislature for 30 years, but voters have regularly elected Democratic governors, including Laura Kelly in 2018. He opposed the proposed amendment, saying that changing the state constitution would “plunge the state back into the dark.” Centuries.”

Republican state Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who is hoping to oust Kelly, supported the proposed constitutional amendment. Before the election, he told the Catholic television network EWTN that there was “still room for progress” on reducing abortions, without revealing what he would sign as governor.

Abortion opponents have sought new restrictions almost every year until the 2019 state Supreme Court decision, but they felt constrained by past court decisions and Democratic governors like Kelly.

Kansas voters protect abortion rights and block path to ban

Source link Kansas voters protect abortion rights and block path to ban

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