1. Governance
August 3, 2022

Kansas votes against anti-abortion amendment

It is an overwhelming victory for pro-choice Kansans.

By Silvia Pellegrino and katharine swindells

Today, Kansas saw the results of the 2022 Value Them Both Amendment vote, which would have declared that the Kansas Constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion.

Roe vs Wade
Protests against Roe vs Wade being overturned have taken place across the US. (Photo by Reed Naliboff on Unsplash)

In the ballot’s results, 534,134 people out of 908,745 – making up 58.78% – voted “No,” effectively keeping abortion legal and part of women’s rights in the state.

The result was a decisive victory for pro-choice groups, and it was the first vote of its kind that took place since Roe vs Wade was overturned, and the US Supreme Court ruled states should make abortion laws at the state level. This was a significant outcome since Kansas has a consistent record of voting for Republican presidential candidates, including former-President Donald Trump with a strong margin in 2020.

Democrats celebrate Kansas abortion vote

Kansas’ Democratic Governor Laura Kelly tweeted: “Kansas stood up for fundamental rights today. We rejected divisive legislation that jeopardized our economic future and put women’s health care access at risk. Together, we’ll continue to make incredible strides to make KS the best state in the nation to live freely & do business.”

Following the vote, President Joe Biden called on Congress to pass a law to restore nationwide abortion rights: “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,” he said in a statement.

What does Kansas think about abortion?

Abortion has always been a divisive topic in Kansas, as shown by polling conducted by the University of Chicago with Fox News in 2018, which categorised respondents by who they voted for in the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial race. Among people who voted for the Republican Kris Kobach, over 80% said abortion was one of the main issues facing the county, and two-thirds believed it should be illegal in most or all cases. Among voters for Democrat Laura Kelly, however, 70% said abortion should be legal.

In the most recent Kansas Speaks Survey, conducted in Autumn 2021, 31% said that abortion is murder, versus 40.9% who disagreed; 60% said that they do not think that abortion should be illegal, considering instances of rape, incest or a threat to the woman’s life.

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The referendum was brought by the Kansas Republican Legislature, which was criticised for being misleading, spreading misinformation and adopting voter-suppression tactics. The day before Kansas citizens were set to vote, they received a text claiming that approving the amendment would protect “choice”.

“Even though the amendment doesn’t explicitly ban abortion, everyone here knows that, if it were to pass, the legislature is going to ban abortions immediately in January,” Don Haider-Markel, a professor of political science at the University of Kansas, previously told City Monitor.

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs Wade, Kansas is the first state to put abortion rights to a vote.

However, in November, four more states will host ballots that could determine rights to abortions. These measures, if passed, will restrict abortion in Kentucky and Montana, while ballots in California and Vermont are being held to attempt to enshrine abortion rights in law.

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