The Kansas referendum will test the change in the abortion landscape since Roe fell

The Kansas referendum will test the change in the abortion landscape since Roe fell

The Kansas referendum will test the change in the abortion landscape since Roe fell

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In the first of a nationwide referendum wave on abortion rights, Kansas voters will decide on Tuesday whether the state’s constitution protects the right to terminate a pregnancy.

Kansans should approve the vote measure, it would give state legislators the leeway to ban the procedure, which they seem likely to do.

Abortion remains legal in Kansas for now, with abortion providers claiming they have been overwhelmed by the demand for patients in neighboring Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, all of whom have banned abortion and are now struggling with the aftermath.

“There has been a great shock locally from people who, I think, just didn’t believe Roe would fall or that we could end up in this situation,” said Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. which operates in all four states.

“Kansas is essential to providing abortion services here locally, and it’s not hard for people to look beyond state lines” to see the consequences of the bans, he said.

The size of the vote in this state will provide a first indication of how the June Supreme Court decision to end national abortion law has altered the American political landscape. California and Vermont are expected to vote on whether to uphold the right to abortion, while activists in Michigan are working to get a similar measure on the ballot. Kentucky and Montana will have electoral measures against abortion.

While advocates of access to abortion have said there has been a surge of support since the Supreme Court’s decision, winning the vote in Kansas won’t be easy.

The new constitutional amendment, if passed, would override a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that people in the state have the right to terminate a pregnancy. But the measure appears in the ballot of the Kansas primary, typically reserved only for registered party voters, where they select the candidate for their party in the November election.

Republican voters are much more likely to participate in the August primary in Kansas than Democrats. Unaffiliated voters make up more than a quarter of the state electorate, but typically have no reason to come to the polls in the primaries.

A propaganda for Students for Life in a suburb of Kansas City.

A propaganda for Students for Life in a suburb of Kansas City. Photograph: Gabriella Borter / Reuters

“The only result that would shock me is if not [fighting to keep abortion legal] won easily or comfortably, “said Patrick Miller, an associate professor of political science at the University of Kansas.

“I would not be surprised by a victory of the yes vote because they have been better organized”.

Before the fall of Roe v Wade, abortions in Kansas accounted for less than 1 percent of all abortions in the country, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research organization. About 560,000 women of reproductive age live in Kansas.

Anne Melia, an abortion advocate, went door-to-door to speak to voters in Merriam, Kansas.

Anne Melia, an abortion advocate, went door-to-door to speak to voters in Merriam, Kansas. Photograph: John Hanna / AP

A ban in Kansas could ripple in the Midwest. The region is now one of the most hostile to abortion in the United States, and many states have already banned or intend to do so.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains has been forced to tell patients that although clinics in Kansas may be closer, they are unlikely to be able to accommodate them.

“You have to get to Nebraska, Illinois if you can – New Mexico and Colorado,” Wales told patients. “If you’re from Texas, we may be the closest geographically, but we just don’t have enough appointments to meet the need.”

Republican lawmakers in Kansas refused to specify how they would restrict abortion, but they signaled interest in an outright abortion ban, and groups supporting the amendment told supporters that their goal is an abortion ban.

Announcements in favor of the amendments, however, tend to focus on “reasonable” limits on abortion, although many are already in place, such as a ban on taxpayer funding for abortion.

Neither Kansans for Life, a sponsor of the constitutional amendment, nor state representative Trevor Jacobs, a prominent proponent of abortion ban legislation, responded to multiple requests for comment.

Public polls suggest the campaign will be closed. In July, 47% of voters said they supported the measure, 43% opposed and 10% were undecided. February polls show that 60% of Kansans oppose the outright ban on abortion. But the Kansas legislature is “far more conservative than the Kansan average on abortion,” Miller said.

It is a dynamic that has occurred in many states in the United States, as well as in the United States Senate. As the Republican party has moved closer to the anti-abortion movement and lawmakers take more extreme positions, Republican-dominated legislatures have banned abortion even when public sentiment is mixed.

According to the Gallup poll, about 85 percent of Americans support legal abortion in at least some circumstances. However, more than half of U.S. states are expected to attempt to ban abortion, and the procedure is already banned, unavailable, or legally challenged in 17 states.

Kansas also has its own history with abortion, which touches the most violent extremes of the anti-abortion movement. Thousands of anti-abortion protesters took to the state in 1991 for the “Summer of Mercy”, blocking the entrances to clinics and harassing patients and doctors. Then, in 2009, a man murdered George Tiller, a doctor who performed surgical abortions, outside his church in Wichita, Kansas.

“We have a chance, a good chance, once again complicated by being in the primary ballot,” said Ashley All, spokesperson for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, a coalition of groups opposing the proposed constitutional amendment.

“But, if people are motivated and understand that this is something that takes away their constitutional rights, takes away their freedom to make decisions for themselves and their families, I think they will show up and vote no.”

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