The kansas voters on Tuesday rejected an effort to remove abortion protections from the state constitution, a resounding victory for the abortion rights movement in the first statewide election test since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe vs. Wade.
The failure of the amendment in the conservative state raised hopes for Democrats that the abortion rights issue will draw voters to the party in November’s midterm elections, even as they worry about rising inflation.
The result will also prevent the Republican-led Kansas legislature from passing harsh restrictions on abortion in the state, which has become a key abortion access point in America’s heartland.
Political analysts expected the Kansas amendment to pass, given that Republicans tend to turn out in greater numbers in the state’s primary elections than Democrats and independents.
But Tuesday’s vote drew a larger-than-expected turnout. With 98% of the votes counted, the 59% of voters favored preserving the right to abortion 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,” Allen said.
The Kansas ballot initiative is the first of several that will ask American voters to weigh in on abortion rights this year. Kentucky, California, Vermont and possibly Michigan will put abortion on the ballot this fall.
The president of the United States, Joe Bidenjoined Democrats across the country to applaud the results on Tuesday.
“This vote makes clear what we know: A majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make your own health care decisionsBiden said in a statement.
High stakes in November
Women 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 v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion throughout the country.
A spokesman for the Trust Women’s abortion clinic in Wichita said the 60% of their abortion patients are from out of state.
Tuesday’s referendum attracted 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.
Kansas for Constitutional Freedom, the main coalition opposing the amendment, raised about $6.5 million, including more than 1 million Planned Parenthood groups.
With information from Reuters