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Can freedom win again in Kansas?


This is a really big deal:

On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority overturned the constitutional right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, saying they were sending the issue of abortion back to the voters. But voters don’t make their decisions in a vacuum, and we’re already seeing how the politics of abortion have changed in Kansas. On Aug. 2, Kansans will vote on a state constitutional amendment that would clarify [extremely sic] that the state’s bill of rights does not protect Kansans’ right to an abortion. And even though the state leans Republican, new polling and fundraising numbers suggest it’s a close race.

The proposed amendment, as its supporters are quick to point out, wouldn’t ban abortion, but it would remove one of the biggest obstacles to making abortion illegal in Kansas. In 2019, the state Supreme Court ruled that the right to bodily autonomy in the state’s bill of rights includes the right to abortion — separate from any rights guaranteed (or not guaranteed) by the U.S. Constitution. So even if Kansas’s Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, loses in November, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature wouldn’t be able to pass much anti-abortion legislation at all. And Kansas would continue to be an island of abortion access as surrounding states ban abortion. If the amendment passes, on the other hand, the Kansas constitution would no longer protect abortion and more restrictions are likely, particularly if Republicans take back the governor’s mansion in the midterm elections.

The vote will be an early bellwether for how Americans are thinking about abortion in the lead-up to the midterms. According to the first publicly released poll of the campaign, conducted by co/efficient and shared exclusively with FiveThirtyEight, 47 percent of likely primary voters say they plan to vote for the amendment, while 43 percent say they plan to vote against it.1

This, of course, is why Republicans are so anxious to cover up any discussion about the consequences of the draconian abortion bans they favor. In a red state where pro-choice sentiment typically runs ahead of the Democratic Party, the idea that opponents of legal abortion don’t really mean what they say and your abortion for the right reasons won’t be prohibited and indeed perhaps isn’t an abortion at all is crucial to keeping cross-pressured voters on the train to violent patriarchy. Hopefully supporters of reproductive freedom in Kansas will be energized enough to stop this amendment from passing.

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