Kansas Voters Reject Anti-Abortion Constitutional Amendment

A majority of Kansas voters have voted against a ballot measure that would have allowed lawmakers in the state to ban abortion. The Aug. 2 vote drew intense interest as the nation’s first public referendum on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in June.

On the “Value Them Both” proposed amendment to the state constitution, about 59 percent voted “no” to 41 percent who voted “yes,” with 99 percent of the expected vote reporting on Aug. 3, ABC News reported.

The proposal had generated more than $13 million in campaign spending by proponents and critics and dramatically boosted turnout for a primary ballot that otherwise featured few competitive races.

The public referendum on the measure is the culmination of years of lobbying by Kansas Right-to-Life organizations that were dealt a blow in 2019, when the state’s Supreme Court overturned the 2015 “Kansas Unborn Child Protection From Dismemberment Abortion Act.”

That 2019 decision determined Section 1 of the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights protects a woman’s access to abortion, making Kansas 1 of 10 states where court rulings granted a right to abortion.

The “Value Them Both” amendment stated it would “reserve to the people of Kansas, through their elected state legislators, the right to pass laws to regulate abortion, including, but not limited to, in circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”

The Value Them Both coalition argued that establishing legislative authority through a constitutional amendment was necessary to ensure the Sunflower State doesn’t become “a destination state for the abortion industry.”

Meanwhile, the coalition and proponents of the measure spent $4.69 million on messaging to stress that adoption of the measure merely returns abortion regulation to state legislators.

The Kansas vote on the “Value Them Both” amendment follows the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6–3 June 24 decision that overturned the Roe ruling and kicked abortion regulation back to the states.

Voters in as many as six states will also see abortion-related ballot measures in 2022, but not until the November general election.

The five 2022 statewide referendums that have qualified so far are the most relating to abortion for a single year in the nation’s history, according to Ballotpedia.

California, Vermont, and Michigan voters will cast ballots this fall on proposed constitutional amendments that would enshrine access to abortion.

As in Kansas, voters in Montana and Kentucky will be presented with proposals that curb access to abortion. Sponsors of a proposed restrictive abortion measure in Colorado have until Aug. 8 to collect signatures needed to qualify for a spot on the ballot there.

John Haughey

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John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.

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