Kansas' 'political earthquake' abortion vote should terrify 'the forced-birth movement': conservative
The anti-movement movement suffered a major blow on Tuesday, August 2, when voters in Kansas shot down a ballot referendum that would have removed protection for abortion rights from the state constitution. Roughly 59 percent of Kansas voters said “no” to the measure, showing widespread support for abortion rights in a deep red state that former President Donald Trump won by 15 percent in 2020 and by 21 percent in 2016. The measure’s outcome showed that a conservative state with a centrist Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, is mostly pro-choice following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade with its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Washington Post opinion writer Jennifer Rubin, a pro-choice Never Trump conservative, discusses the measure’s outcome in her August 3 column — explaining why it is bad news for the “forced-birth movement.”
“A political earthquake shook Kansas on Tuesday,” Rubin explains. “Voters in the deep-red state turned out in droves to reject a measure that would have taken abortion protection out of the state constitution. With more than 90 percent of the vote reported, the ‘no’ vote — which would preserve abortion access — led by nearly 20 points as of Wednesday morning…. This is the first concrete evidence of a major backlash against the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision.”
Rubin continues, “Forced-birth advocates in Kansas thought that by putting the measure on a primary ballot, for which turnout is historically lower, conservative voters could dominate. Instead, they drove Democrats and a lot of pro-choice independents and Republicans who might not otherwise vote to the polls.”
The outcome in Kansas, Rubin stresses, is a reminder to Republicans that many conservative voters are pro-choice.
“Republicans in other states should pay attention to Tuesday’s results,” Rubin advises. “They have been zealously passing bans in states such as Kentucky and Louisiana, and severely restricting access in others such as Florida. There is still time for lawmakers in some states to heed the warning from Kansas.”
Rubin adds, “Indiana, for example, is on the precipice of outlawing abortion from the moment of conception, except if needed to prevent ‘substantial impairment’ to a woman’s life. Victims of rape or incest would have to get abortions within the first trimester, before many women know they are pregnant, or face the trauma of a forced pregnancy and labor. That will add to the tide of women desperately traveling to states such as Illinois — or Kansas — to get care.”
Voters in deep red Kansas, according to Rubin, “seem to have recognized” that the “impact of” post-Roe abortion bans at the state level “can be devastating” — and not only for pregnant women, but also, for medical workers, who will “be forced to weigh the needs of patients against their own risk of prosecution.”
“Kansas, however, provides an alternative outcome to the parade of disasters,” Rubin writes. “Voters there have sounded a wake-up call for lawmakers to consider not only the unpopularity of bans, but also, the wave of suffering they will unleash. The Kansas vote should prompt states to pause before joining the forced-birth movement.
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