Kansas's Decision to Keep Abortion Legal Sets a Powerful Precedent

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In a landslide victory for reproductive rights, Kansas voters officially decided not to remove the right to abortion from their state constitution. Despite the state’s conservative voting history, the people of Kansas made their decision clear. After about 95 per cent of the votes were counted, 59 per cent of constituents had voted in favour of maintaining abortion rights, and 41 per cent opposed, according to The New York Times. This win may be attributed in part to the work done by abortion-rights activists, who appealed to unaffiliated and moderate-right voters.

Jo Dee Adelung, a Democrat from Merriam, KS, told The New York Times that she hoped this win proved that voters are “really taking a look at all of the issues and doing what’s right for Kansas and not just going down party lines.” On the other side of the spectrum, Value Them Both, the organisation behind the proposed amendment that would add “regulation of abortion” to Kansas’s constitution, thereby removing state-level protections against abortion restrictions, tweeted about the outcome of the primaries. “This outcome is a temporary setback, and our dedicated fight to value women and babies is far from over. . . . We will be back,” the organisation wrote.

But as of now, despite the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion in Kansas remains legal for the first 22 weeks of a pregnancy. “I’ve always maintained that a woman’s reproductive health care decisions should be between her and her physician,” Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said in a statement, according to Kansas Reflector. “I’m proud to say that Kansans stood up for our fundamental rights today.”

“I’m proud to say that Kansans stood up for our fundamental rights today.”

In addition to regulating abortion, the amendment claimed it would also ban government-funded abortion (although, as the Kansas Reflector pointed out, this is already banned under state law). Right now, those seeking abortions in Kansas already must wait 24 hours and receive state-ordered counselling, and often must pay out of pocket for the procedure, according to the Center For Reproductive Rights.

Although Kansans still face these restrictions, the outcome of this vote sets a precedent for what is sure to be a long road in the battle for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. “From the moment lawmakers put this on a primary ballot, we knew this was going to be an uphill battle,” said Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Kansans For Constitutional Freedom, at a watch party in Kansas, according to Kansas Reflector. “We put in the work and these numbers speak for themself.”

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