Kansas’ abortion vote heralds new post-row era

“This is the first of many wars that we’re going to see in many states,” said Mary Owens, communications director for Pro-Life Americas, Susan B. Anthony, who flew from the organization’s Virginia headquarters for the final push. , “The power to be able to make people pro-life laws through their elected representatives rather than judges is gone.”

Kansas is a conservative state that former President Donald Trump won twice easily, but the abortion-rights question is proving divisive and unpredictable.

On Friday, a small group of college students and recent graduates volunteered with the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America to take to the streets of suburban Kansas City, where homes displayed sports banners rather than political ones. more likely to do. , He was stopped by a woman who leaned out of her car window to thank him and said that she had already voted.

“I just believe in life, and an unborn child is a life,” said Adiana Yantis, her voice catching and her eyes welling up. “To me, killing it is murder.”

Others from the same block were also shedding tears for different reasons.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years and I’ve seen a lot of kids go into foster care. I’ve seen a lot of kids born in drug addicted families. I see people who don’t take care of their kids. And it just wears on you,” said Heather, a nurse practitioner who declined to give her last name for fear of retaliation at work, her voice trembling with emotion. “I mean, my 13 year olds giving birth to a baby boy – they’re just kids. We see children who are raped and sex trafficked.”

“That,” she said, pointing to “vote yes” signs from anti-abortion canvassers and her neighbors, “the answer is no.”

The preachers immediately thanked him and withdrew. Now with only three days left, his focus was on voting, not on persuasion.

The “Price Them Both” amendment in Tuesday’s ballot doesn’t ban abortion, but it clears the way for the legislature to do so. Abortion in the state is currently legal until 22 weeks, although there are many restrictions on clinics and patients – especially minors who are seeking the procedure. But the state’s Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the state’s constitution’s language about bodily autonomy extends to abortion rights, meaning Kansas can’t join the red states around it, which are almost on the process. imposes an outright ban unless anti-abortion forces win the ballot. Box.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America is spending $1.3 million to broadcast ads, send mailers, fly and stay home to nearly 300 volunteers who have knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors since May. Overall, according to campaign finance disclosureAnti-abortion groups have raised about $4.7 million, most of which is from the Catholic Church.

Consensus for Constitutional Freedom – the umbrella group fighting against the amendment – has raised over $6.5 millionWith the bulk coming from Planned Parenthood and other abortion rights groups.

“I couldn’t imagine prosecuting a rape victim or asking that victim to take her assailant’s child,” Chris Mann, a Democrat running for Kansas attorney general, told Politico on Monday. “I couldn’t imagine asking an abuse victim to carry that abuser’s child. But these are really unfathomable things that very well could happen if this amendment was passed.”

Kansas is one of the only states in the region where abortion remains legal and has become a destination for patients from states that have implemented near-total restrictions, most notably Texas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Kansas providers told Politico that the influx of out-of-state patients has increased wait times by several weeks, and the state’s history of violence against abortion providers may make it difficult to recruit more doctors to meet demand. has gone. State doctors fear that losing access to the procedure in Kansas will force patients to go even further, putting abortion out of reach of those who can’t afford to do so.

“I am already seeing patients from out of state almost every day. People are driving all night long. People are traveling so far to get basic health care,” said Iman Alsaden, chief medical director of Planned Parenthood Great Plains and abortion provider in Kansas City. “And the Consensus I care for now may be missing a basic human right.”

While Kansas is a solid red state, it also has a Democratic governor, and a recent survey Co/Skilled by the research firm showed that 47 percent of respondents said they would vote for the amendment, compared to 43 who said they would vote against it, with 10 percent undecided.

Still, in a sign of widespread uncertainty about what the amendment would do, a third of voters said they didn’t want a ban on abortion while only 9 percent said they preferred a total ban.

Anti-abortion forces will benefit from the amendment being scheduled for the August primary instead of a general election in November. Turnout tends to be lower and favor registered Republicans, who far outnumber registered Democrats, and who have more competitive primaries in the state. Many college students who have progressive leanings aren’t even around in the summer, and unaffiliated voters who usually can’t cast the primary ballot may not realize that they can vote on a referendum.

Despite those adversities, abortion-rights groups feel buoyed by the grassroots response. The co/skilled poll found that significantly more Democrats than Republicans said they were motivated to vote because of the measure — 94 percent to 78 percent. And data from the Secretary of State’s office shows that early individual voter turnout is around 250 percent more Compared to the last primary midterm election 2018, the number of mail-in ballots has more than doubled.

“The deck was purposefully pitted against us by the legislature, which includes Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma,” said Emily Wells, president of Planned Parenthood Great Plains. It’s weeks after the verdict and people have never been more engaged and I think we’re going to see record turnout.”

With the state being so close on the issue, campaigns from both sides are scrambling to reach as many voters as possible before Tuesday night.

On Saturday morning, dozens of volunteers with Kansas for Constitutional Freedom gathered at a community center in Kansas City’s Rosedale neighborhood to refuel on vegan donuts and Rep. To hear a loud talk from Sharis Davids (D-Kan).

White-haired retirees, wearing fanny packs and reading glasses, sat on folding chairs between young couples and some mother-daughter pairs and cheered as David — the state’s only Democratic member of Congress — argued that the GOP’s His troubled victory against the incumbent in 2018 shows that a victory for the Progressives on Tuesday is possible.

“That’s why I feel so optimistic about our ability to leave this thing behind,” she said. “A hundred years from now, people are going to look back on what we are now, and I hope you all feel a little relieved to know that when they look back, they’ll see that you’re a group of people.” Which not only saved our democracy, but helped ensure that our children and grandchildren get the same rights as we have.”

Since the abortion-rights campaign launched earlier this year—long before the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade – It focuses on mobilizing less engaged Democrats as well as independents, liberals and moderate Republicans by using respectful messages in focus groups about preventing government interference in private medical options. In the final weeks of the campaign, like his opponents, he began to change his base, making sure he knew where and when to vote and why it mattered.

Wells said that the states around Kansas are changing rapidly. Roe deerHis downfall provided a clear example of his arguments.

“We’re right on the state line,” she said. “There’s no better window into what constitutional protections for abortion and what it doesn’t look like. On one side of town, in Missouri, they’re debating whether emergency contraception is still legal and what their trigger law means. and how to treat ectopic pregnancies – while on the other side of the city, people are more independent and have more personal rights than their neighbors.”

The Battle of Kansas also highlights another defining feature of the post-Roe deer America: Public confusion.

The text of the proposed amendment mentions cases of rape and incest but does not include any protection for abortion in those circumstances. Anti-abortion groups are running ads saying it will “end the gruesome practice of late-term abortion,” although third-trimester abortions have been banned in the state for years. Billboards for anti-abortion amendments posted along freeways in Kansas City use the phrase “Trust Woman”—the name of a network of abortion clinics and the motto of a Kansas abortion provider who was murdered in 2009. Meanwhile, in a bid to appeal to conservatives and liberals, Advertisements for abortion-rights groups Cast the amendment as a coercive “mandate” similar to the requirements for masks and vaccines. The local ACLU chapter said it was flooded with messages from voters about what the measure would do.

Meanwhile, anti-abortion advocates are hesitant to discuss their next steps if the amendment passes — even after audio leak A pro-Amendment campaign leader told a local Republican group that the ultimate goal is a complete ban on abortions beginning at conception.

“If the constitutional amendment is passed, we can have a policy debate,” Owens said. “Consens will have to decide through their elected officials what that looks like. It may sound like a 15-week ban. It may sound like a heartbreak ban. Every state is different.”

While abortion rights groups are warning that if the amendment is passed, Kansas will become like Missouri, anti-abortion groups giving a warning The state will become more California-like if it fails.

A number of restrictions still exist in the state, even after a court ruling in 2019 that the constitution protects abortion rights – from a 24-hour waiting period and mandatory ultrasounds to requiring parental consent, abortions to non-abortionists. Ban on physicians, ban telemedicine for abortion pills and ban procedure after 22 weeks.

Yet those in favor of the amendment are telling voters that those laws could disappear if they don’t vote yes.

“All existing Kansas legislation is likely to be scrapped,” said Elizabeth Kirk, a law professor and Kansas native who works with the anti-abortion Charlotte Lozier Institute. “So what this amendment does is restore the ability of Kansas to legislate whatever policy feels best for the people in Kansas.”

Meanwhile, progressives are rushing to remind voters that Republicans have a majority in the state legislature and this past session introduced a complete abortion ban No exemptions for rape or incest – clarifying the likely outcome of Tuesday’s vote.

“If anyone thinks the result will not be there in early 2023, they are fools and they need to stop deluding themselves,” Alsaden said.

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