Kansas residents are voting on whether to scrap abortion rights from their state constitution on Tuesday, the first such ballot measure since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
Voting ‘yes’ would overturn the state constitution’s abortion protections, leaving the door wide open for its Republican legislature to ban or limit the procedure.
Choosing ‘no’ would keep the law unchanged.
Any bill would likely face a veto from Democrat Governor Laura Kelly, which the red-dominated legislature has the votes to override.
It’s currently legal to terminate a pregnancy up to 22 weeks in Kansas, around the roughly the viability window established by Roe in 1973.
There were 7,849 abortions in the state last year, according to a preliminary report from the Kansas Health Department.
The state’s four clinics have also become a haven for women from nearby states that have already restricted abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, like Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Three of those clinics are run by Planned Parenthood.
That means a majority of Kansans voting ‘yes’ on the Value Them Both Amendment could have significant repercussions on the whole region.
The measure reads, ‘Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.’
Deacon John Stanley of the Catholic Church and Connie Stanley pray and wave at cars while holding signs in support of the Vote Yes to a Constitutional Amendment on Abortion along 135th Street on August 01, 2022 in Olathe, Kansas
The Value Them Both Coalition is a faith-based anti-abortion group that pushed for Tuesday’s vote
Voting ‘yes’ would make way for Kansas’ Republican-dominated legislature to pass a ban on abortion
‘To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.’
Pro-choice activists believe the measure was put on the primary ballot rather than November’s general election to ensure limited turnout, according to CNN.
Data from past elections shows more Republicans than Democrats turning out for primaries nationwide.
GOP voters also outnumber Democrats in Kansas by more than 300,000.
The Sunflower State’s highest court upheld the right in 2019, in a decision stating that ‘the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects a woman’s access to abortion.’
Similar rulings were made by the Supreme Courts of Alaska and Montana, which retain their abortion protections despite having majority-Republican legislatures.
‘All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,’ the Kansas Supreme Court’s 7-1 decision read.
Voting ‘no’ would keep the Sunflower State constitution’s abortion protections in tact
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the state constitution protected the right to an abortion
: A canvasser for the Vote No on the Constitutional Amendment on Abortion is given their route by organizer Jae Gray at the Johnson County Democratic Office on August 01, 2022 in Overland Park, Kansas
Voters are deciding on the measure on Tuesday, when Kansas is one of five states to hold primary elections
‘We are now asked: Is this declaration of rights more than an idealized aspiration? And, if so, do the substantive rights include a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy? We answer these questions, “Yes.”‘
Kansans are not voting for or against an abortion ban on Tuesday, but rather on whether their state lawmakers should have the ability to make one.
And Kansas Republicans are poised to act quickly if the amendment passes, a report in the Kansas Reflector suggests.
An official within the Value Them Both Coalition, which pushed for the measure, reportedly told a Reno County GOP meeting that a bill was already prepared for unveiling if the amendment passes.
The meeting occurred in mid-July.
‘It’s out there…but it’s not voted on or anything yet,’ the regional director reportedly said of the legislation.
It comes after the conservative-dominated US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June
‘I’m in charge of in getting out the vote with, and knocking on doors, and making phone calls, working on grassroots initiatives on this.’
The bill she listed, HB 2746, died in committee this past May, according to the state legislature’s website.
The US Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority dramatically overhauled the American reproductive health landscape in late June when it agreed to Mississippi prosecutors’ request to remove federal abortion protections.
It overturned Roe as well as its sister case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and sparked nationwide protests among Democrats and women’s rights groups.
And the question of abortion rights has already made voter turnout in Kansas surge, according to the most recent data.