Kansas voters overwhelmingly reject an abortion amendment.

Kansas voters overwhelmingly reject an abortion amendment.

Kansas voters defeated a constitutional amendment that would have stripped residents of their abortion rights by a landslide on Tuesday, defying polling and political observers who predicted a close vote.

The ballot measure was defeated by a 60-40 margin late Tuesday, after voters responded to an intense and costly campaign marked by dubious claims by amendment supporters and the unraveling of protections by the United States Supreme Court.

The question put to voters in the form of a perplexingly worded constitutional amendment was whether to end the right to abortion in Kansas by voting “yes” or to keep the right by voting “no.”

“You guys, we did it,” Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, told a crowd of abortion-rights supporters at an Overland Park watch party. “We vetoed this amendment.” “Are you kidding me?”

With a governor’s race and congressional seats on the ballot in November, the outcome could have far-reaching political ramifications. It also means that reproductive health care will continue to be available in a state where six girls under the age of 14 were among nearly 8,000 patients who had abortions last year.

In a statement to campaign supporters, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly said, “I’ve always maintained that a woman’s reproductive health care decisions should be between her and her physician.” “I’m proud to say that Kansans stood up today for our basic rights.”

The proposed constitutional amendment is in response to a Kansas Supreme Court decision in 2019 that overturned a state law prohibiting a common second-term abortion procedure. The court ruled that the right to bodily autonomy enshrined in the state constitution’s Bill of Rights encompasses the decision to terminate a pregnancy.

When the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, allowing each state to set its own rules for reproductive health care, abortion remained legal in Kansas. Kansas attracted national attention as the first post-Roe state to vote on abortion rights.

In a statement, President Joe Biden stated that the vote demonstrates that “the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and the right to make their own health care decisions.”

“Congress should heed the will of the American people and reinstate Roe v. Wade protections as federal law,” Biden said.

Voters turned out in unexpected numbers in the state’s urban areas, while rural areas underperformed when compared to turnout in the presidential election two years ago.

“We knew this was going to be an uphill battle from the moment lawmakers put it on a primary ballot,” Sweet said. “We worked hard, and the results speak for themselves.”

Dawn Rattan, who attended the Overland Park watch party, said the amendment’s defeat demonstrates that reproductive health care is a bipartisan issue, and “people everywhere want women to have a choice.” When the outcome was announced, she burst into tears.

“I was terrified,” Rattan admitted. “I was worried that it would be close, but this is just so decisive that it’s not even close.” So I’m just happy, and I’m not usually moved to tears, so I’m a little embarrassed, but I’m just really happy.”

The constitutional amendment would have overturned the Kansas Supreme Court ruling and given the Legislature the authority to enact any type of abortion restriction, with no exceptions for rape, incest, or the health of the patient. Because the amendment was defeated, abortion will remain legal – albeit heavily regulated – in Kansas.

Millions of dollars were spent in campaigns to educate and influence voters by both supporters and opponents of the amendment.

The so-called Value Them Both Coalition refused to say whether it would support an abortion ban if the amendment passed, and it frequently refuted claims that the amendment equated to an abortion ban. However, audio obtained by Kansas Reflector revealed that abortion amendment supporters already had legislation in mind that would prohibit abortion from conception until birth, with no exceptions.

The Kansas Reflector was denied entry to its election night watch party by the Value Them Both Coalition because the organization does not approve of Reflector news stories.

Dannielle Underwood, a spokeswoman for the Value Them Both Coalition, said in a statement that the outcome of Tuesday’s election is only a temporary setback.

“We’ll be back,” she promised.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America spokeswoman Mallory Carroll said in a statement that the loss was “a huge disappointment for pro-life Kansans and Americans nationwide.”

“The stakes for the pro-life movement in the upcoming midterm elections could not be higher, and many more factors will be at play,” Carroll said. “It is critical that pro-life candidates go on offense to expose the extremism of Democrats’ policy goals for taxpayer-funded nationalized abortion on demand.”

On Monday, Democrats received a text message from former Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas that incorrectly instructed them to vote “yes” to protect reproductive health rights.

The amendment’s opponents have complained about its misleading language. According to the Guardian’s line-by-line analysis, “the ballot language sows confusion in an effort to push people to vote ‘yes.'”

The amendment claims to prohibit government-funded abortion, which is already prohibited under state law, and suggests that the Legislature “could” provide exceptions in state law for rape, incest, or the life of a mother — despite the fact that the amendment does not require those exceptions.

According to annual reports from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, a typical abortion in Kansas involves a woman of color between the ages of 20 and 30 who lives in Kansas or Missouri, is unmarried, already has at least one child, has never had an abortion before, is less than nine weeks pregnant, and terminates her pregnancy with the drug mifepristone.

Due to existing restrictions, the patient received state-ordered counseling designed to discourage her from having an abortion, waited at least 24 hours, viewed an ultrasound image, and paid for the procedure out of her own pocket.

Except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger, no abortions occurred outside of the legal limit of 22 weeks, according to KDHE.

Sweet described the abortion amendment defeat as “historic” for Kansas and America.

“We will not cede our constitutional rights and bodily autonomy to the government, and we will look out for each other because that is what Kansas is all about,” Sweet said.

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