August 4, 2022
On Tuesday, August 2, in a move widely seen as a victory for abortion rights activists, Kansas voters overwhelmingly struck down a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove language enshrining reproductive rights in their state, reports NBC News.
The proposed amendment gave voters the opportunity—for the first time anywhere in the United States since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June—to cast ballots on abortion
A ballot question, known as the “Value Them Both Amendment,” asked voters to decide whether the state’s Constitution should continue to protect abortion rights. The proposed amendment to the state Constitution would have removed language that guarantees reproductive rights and asked voters if they prefer to put the issue of abortion in the hands of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature—an outcome that abortion advocates said was all but certain to result in the elimination or curtailment of those rights.
A “yes” vote on the measure would have removed from the state Constitution the right to an abortion and handed the issue back to the state legislature. A “no” vote on the measure would make no changes—keeping abortion rights enshrined in the state Constitution.
Anti-abortion activists had argued that the Kansas ballot question created an opportunity to put the issue in the hands of the voters via elected state lawmakers. Supporters of abortion rights warned that approval of the ballot measure would almost certainly result in the elimination or curtailment of existing rights in a state that has more lenient laws on its books compared to many of its neighbors.
The ballot question had been planned for more than a year, but it took on greater significance in the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, ending the federal constitutional right to an abortion.
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab said Tuesday night that the state’s polls saw “incredibly high turnout.”
Early voting in the state kicked off in mid-July, and Schwab’s office reported that, as of last Tuesday—more than twice as many people had already cast early ballots than at the same point during the last midterm primary election in 2018. Groups on both sides of the issue blanketed Kansas airwaves with millions of dollars in ads.
President Joe Biden said that the 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.”
At least 22 states already have banned or will soon prohibit abortion. The new landscape makes Kansas a regional outlier and a safe haven for women in and out of state seeking abortion car —but that could diminish or disappear if the measure passes.
Research contact: @NBCNews