For the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving it to the states to decide access to abortion, the issue appeared on the state ballot. In Kansas,in the state constitution that would have abolished the constitutional right to abortion has been defeated.
The Kansas ballot initiative is seen as a bellwether for the impact of abortion in November’s midterm elections.
Since the Supreme Court decision ending the federal right to abortion, at least 12 states have banned abortion either completely or after six weeks of pregnancy. Other states are also expected to move forward with further restrictions.
In Kansas, voters confirmed that abortion is constitutionally protected, upholding a 2019 ruling by the state Supreme Court. This decision stated that an individual has a right to personal autonomy and applied strict scrutiny to the regulation of abortion. The Kansas Legislature could not ban or enact further restrictions on abortion without a constitutional amendment.
“Canes stood up for fundamental rights today. We rejected divisive legislation that jeopardized our economic future and jeopardized women’s access to health care.” he tweeted Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly. “Together, we will continue to make incredible strides to make KS the best state in the nation to live freely and do business in.”
The “Deserve Both” amendment went on the Aug. 2 primary ballot after passing the Republican-controlled state Legislature with a two-thirds vote in both chambers in 2021.
“While the outcome is not what we had hoped for, our movement and campaign have demonstrated our resolve and commitment. We will not abandon women and babies,” the Value Them Both Coalition, which supported the amendment, said in a statement. The team went on to call the result a “temporary setback.”
While passage of the amendment would not outright ban abortions in the state, legal experts said it would clear the way for the state legislature, where Republicans hold a supermajority, to ban abortions.
“Under the amendment’s language, it would be possible to adopt a complete ban on abortion from the moment of conception to birth, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life or health of the mother,” said Richard Levy, a professor. of Law at the University of Kansas.
Leading up to the primaries, pro- and anti-amendment groups engaged in an aggressive campaign to reach out to voters, knocking on doors, phone banks and holding rallies. Nearly $13 million was spent on abortion-related ads in the state before the vote, according to AdImpact.
“This historic victory was the result of great grassroots support and a broad coalition of reasonable, thoughtful state residents who put health care above politics,” said Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. , on the amendment. defeat. “We’ve seen the devastation caused by the loss of abortion access in neighboring states, and tonight, Kansans saw the deception of anti-abortion interests to ensure that people in their state retain their rights.”
Although this was an off-year primary where turnout is generally very low — in previous recent elections less than a third of voters turned out to vote — Kansas early voting increased ahead of the Aug. 2 primary, suggesting voters were very motivated on the subject of abortion.
Unofficial results Tuesday night from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office showed more than 781,500 people voted for the amendment in the state. With 90% of the vote counted at 11.45pm on Tuesday, No led on 60.4% to Yes on 39.6%.
Overall, party officials and politicians are closely watching how overturning Roe v. Wade could mobilize voters ahead of the midterm elections. According to, abortion is as important an issue as the economy and inflation for women under 50. More than two-thirds of women under 50 describe the Republican party as “extreme.” But Democrats appear to be frustrated with their party’s handling of the abortion issue. 59% said their party has not done enough to protect access, while a majority of Republicans believe their party is taking the right approach on abortion.
Kansas is the first of a handful of states in which voters will have their say on abortion rights in the midterms. Measures similar to the Kansas effort are on the ballots in Kentucky and Montana, while initiatives to add anti-abortion protections to state constitutions are on the ballots in California and Vermont. Efforts to amend the constitution to protect the right to abortion in Michigan are also underway.