Kansas voters protect abortion rights in first major post-Roe test

Associated Press/John Hanna

Kansas voters were projected to have rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would give the state legislature the authority to ban abortion, in what was seen as the first major referendum on the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The Associated Press called the results around 10:40 p.m. ET.

The ballot measure is a proposed state constitutional amendment that says the right to an abortion is not protected by the state constitution, effectively reversing a state Supreme Court decision from 2019.

But because the measure failed, that means that the state Supreme Court ruling still stands. Most abortions up until 22 weeks of pregnancy are allowed currently in the state.

The vote rejecting the ballot measure was lauded by Democrats and abortion rights advocates in and out of Kansas.

“Kansans stood up for fundamental rights today. We rejected divisive legislation that jeopardized our economic future & 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,” Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly (D), who is up for reelection this November, tweeted.

“Today is an enormous victory for people in Kansas who voted to protect their fundamental right to personal and bodily autonomy,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement. 

The vote over the measure came more than a month after the nation’s top court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to an abortion.

A number of states quickly took actions to immediately pass bans to the medical procedure or curb restriction, and the ballot measure in Kansas was widely seen as a bellwether of how voters would react to the high court ruling.

But the date of the ballot measure vote is notable given that Democratic voter turnout has previously been lower during midterm cycles compared to presidential elections, meaning the Aug. 2 election was expected to drive even lower turnout and would be less indicative of how all voters in the state feel on the issue.

Still, it’s no secret that Kansas is a red state, with more than 851,000 registered Republican and more than 495,000 registered Democrats, according to monthly data from the Kansas secretary of state’s office as of July. 

Conservative pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson noted, however, that Kansas’ demographics are nuanced when it comes to the matter of abortion.

“With the Kansas abortion amendment vote, just a reminder that there are a sizable number of voters who: -consider themselves pro-life or who would support prohibiting abortion after 15 weeks AND -also believe Roe should be upheld,” she tweeted.

Tags Kristen Soltis Anderson Laura Kelly Nancy Northup

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