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Kansas Voters Reject Anti-Abortion Amendment

A Republican legislature places a conservative amendment to the state constitution on the primary ballot rather than the general election ballot. The primary usually has far fewer Democratic contests, so primary voters are usually far fewer than in the general election and consist primarily of the most conservative activist base of the Republican party. The Republican legislature, as well as many observers across the political spectrum, thus figures they have a Yes vote on their conservative amendment in the bag. But on primary day, turnout surges and the voters resoundingly reject the amendment.

That lightning has struck twice this summer, first in the surprise defeat of Amendment C in South Dakota in June, and now in Kansas voters’ rejection of an effort to remove women’s right to abortion from the Kansas constitution. With 95% of precincts reporting, the deceptively named “Value Them Both” amendment has failed 41.2% to 58.8%. That’s a remarkable result for the first direct test of voters’ sentiment on abortion since the Alito Court repealed Roe v. Wade:

The vote stands as a major win for abortion rights advocates, preserving access in a red state as the procedure is banned or severely restricted in much of the region. It wasn’t just urban counties, like Democratic-leaning Wyandotte County, that turned out to protect abortion rights. Rural counties like Osage, Franklin and Osage also favored vote “no” by significant margins.

…The vote upholds a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that, in response to an attempt to ban a common 2nd trimester abortion procedure, said Kansans had a right to bodily autonomy and therefore the right to terminate a pregnancy.

The movement against the amendment succeeded in turning a wide swath of no voters out, despite the amendment’s placement on a primary ballot many assumed would favor Republicans. They were able to keep margins in rural counties smaller than anticipated.

Secretary of State Scott Schwab said early in the evening that anecdotal evidence indicated the turnout could match the 2008 presidential race – 63.3% [Katie Bernard and Lisa Gutierrez, “‘No’ Prevails: Kansas Votes to Protect Abortion Rights in State Constitution,” Kansas City Star, 2022.08.03].

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly said last night that the voters have “rejected divisive legislation that jeopardized our economic future & put women’s health care access at risk.” Governor Kelly said the defeat of this anti-abortion amendment helps make Kansas “the best state in the nation to live freely & do business.”

Kansas still has a raft of oppressive statutory restrictions on abortion—a 24-hour waiting period, forced anti-abortion “counseling”, forced and medically unnecessary ultrasound, a ban on insurance coverage for most abortions, a ban on telemedicine abortion consultations. But Kansas voters have made clear that they want to use their Alito-given rights to protect women’s bodily autonomy and equal citizenship.

South Dakota showed similar surprise moxie in standing up to Republican election rigging and anti-freedom legislation in the June 2022 primary vote on Amendment C. Let’s see if South Dakota can repeat that result in 2024.


  1. AmyB 2022-08-03 09:23

    I think Kansas is a preview of what is going to happen in a lot of these red states..SD included.

  2. cibvet 2022-08-03 09:48

    Sometimes republican women will shed their husbands control in a private setting. Not often, but it happened in Kansas yesterday.

  3. mike from iowa 2022-08-03 10:10

    Interesting bit of trivia about abortion and magats. Last pair of sentences is really interesting.

    In a March/April 2009 Washington Monthly piece, Rachel Morris outlines this narrative about how the Federalist Society helped the Republicans develop a supply of attorneys and an ideology to fight what they saw as liberal dominance in the law.
    However, it was only when Edwin Meese became attorney general in 1985 that things really began to change. . . He brought in a cadre of loyal and experienced senior staffers, and directed them to recruit smart, young, conservative lawyers in order to set them on the path to the judiciary or higher office. Thanks to the Federalist Society, his officials now had a one-stop shop for promising candidates, and they hired many of its members. When they found lawyers with senior leadership potential who lacked previous government experience, they brought them on as special assistants or advisers so that in a few years they could be assistant attorneys general. In the short term, this helped Meese gain control of the bureaucracy, but he was also planting seeds for the years ahead. One of the many lawyers he cultivated was Samuel Alito. Meese promoted the thirty-five-year-old to deputy assistant attorney general in 1985, after Alito impressed him with his work on a strategy to eviscerate Roe.

  4. Eve Fisher 2022-08-03 10:42

    Kansas shows that most people – even Republicans, Mr. Alito! – want abortion to be legal and easily available in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother, with no ifs, ands or buts. Plus a reasonable first trimester accessibility. I foresee many more votes, and many more states surprising the heck out of their ultra-conservative politicians by saying, “No, we really want access – at least up to a point.” I also foresee the GOP deciding “no more referendums!” and trying to stop them in many states to prevent that happening again.

  5. mike from iowa 2022-08-03 17:56

    Notice how magats quit screaming women who have had abortions regret them in later life?

  6. scott 2022-08-03 18:41

    Politicians do not listen to the people. They listen to groups like ALEC, CPAC and NRA because that is where the big money will come from.

    We need to make it such that only citizens can make contributions to politicians and cap off the contribution to $10 per candidate per each election. Get rid of all PACS. Cap off the maximum money a candidate can spend for each election; a good number to me would be $1.00 per each registered voter within the boundaries of the office you are running for. Candidates cannot carry over money after the election and if they have money remaining, that money must be donated to charities. Candidates cannot give money to other candidates.

    Get politicians out visiting with voters rather than being influenced by big money. If you want to help a candidate, the only way you can do that is by visiting in person with the voter.

    Imagine no political commercials in July like we have this year or a mailbox without a bunch of mass mailing from PACS from all over the country.

  7. mike from iowa 2022-08-04 09:57

    How about some controversy to start the day? An Indiana female magat pol died in a car wreck yesterday. What are the chances the misogynist magats running the state checker her to make sure she wasn’t pregnant and trying to self abort? I certainly wouldn’t put it past them.

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