Voters in Kansas on Tuesday will vote on a constitutional amendment that will determine the future of abortion rights in their state — the first time in the U.S. voters have voted on abortion since the Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade lifted last month.
An election question known as the Value Them Both Amendment asks voters to decide whether the state constitution should continue to protect abortion rights. That proposed change in the state constitution would remove language guaranteeing reproductive rights and ask voters whether they would prefer to put the issue of abortion in the hands of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature — a result abortion advocates say that it will almost certainly result in the elimination or limitation of those rights.
A “yes” vote on the measure would remove the right to abortion from the state constitution and return the issue to the state legislature. A “no” vote on the measure would make no changes and would keep abortion rights enshrined in the state constitution.
Anti-abortion activists argue that the Kansas election issue creates an opportunity to put the issue in the hands of voters via elected lawmakers. Abortion advocates warn that approving the ballot measure would almost certainly result in the elimination or curtailment of existing rights in a state that has lenient laws on its books compared to many of its neighbors.
“After federal abortion rights were repealed, Kansas lawmakers are saying, ‘We need to change our state constitution so that it no longer protects abortion rights, so we can go ahead and ban or restrict abortion now that we are legally allowed to do so.’ Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that advocates for reproductive rights, said in a recent interview. “If the Kansas Constitution no longer specifically protects the right to abortion, an abortion ban would sail through the legislature.”
The ballot question has been scheduled for more than a year, but in the weeks since the Supreme Court ruled Roe v. Wade in June, ending the federal constitutional right to abortion, has gained prominence.
Early voting in the state began in mid-July, and the Kansas Secretary of State’s office reported last Tuesday — more than twice as many people have already cast their votes earlier than they did at the same time in the last midterm primary election in 2018.
Tuesday’s vote on the measure is expected to be close.
While polls were sparse, the Kansas City-based company found a coefficient in July opinion poll that 47% of respondents said they would vote “yes” to removing the right to abortion from the constitution and letting legislature decide abortion rights, while 43% said they would vote “no.” Ten percent were undecided. Groups on both sides of the issue have bombarded the Kansas airwaves with ads worth millions of dollars.
The measure is intended to replace a 2019 ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that the state’s constitution guarantees the right to abortion. This would allow the state legislature to pass legislation restricting or prohibiting abortion.
Pro-choice advocates have claimed several factors work against them, including the wording of the poll and the timing of its placement.
First, they have expressed concern about the characteristics of the ballot papers language They argue this is deliberately designed to confuse voters. For example, the language used on the ballot states that a “yes” vote on the question would confirm that “the Kansas state constitution does not require state funding for abortion” — although no such requirement exists — “and it does not Establish or secure abortion rights.” A “yes” vote would confirm that “the people, through their elected officials and state senators, can pass abortion laws,” which lawmakers are currently limited in their ability to do due to the 2019 court ruling.
Abortion advocates support a “no” vote on the measures, which does not change the status quo.
Abortion rights advocates also expressed fears that putting the issue before voters during a primary rather than the general election would see turnout from voters who are more supportive of reproductive rights significantly reduced — despite the Foreign Secretary’s figures for early voting indicate that this may not be the case.
Additionally, they’ve also found that unaffiliated voters in the state — who aren’t allowed to cast ballots in primaries for the two major political parties — may not realize they can still vote on the election issue.
“Everything about how this effort was framed was done in a way that obscures that ultimate goal,” Ashley All, a spokeswoman for Kansas for Constitutional Freedom, a pro-abortion rights group that has helped lead efforts against the change , NBC News said in a recent interview.
Abortion rights advocates have argued that with Roe’s departure, there is far too much at stake to put the issue in the hands of state GOP lawmakers. They point to several recently proposed bills that would limit or ban abortion — including one introduced in March — which they say would certainly be reinstated in upcoming sessions of the state legislature if the Kansas ballot initiative is successful.
Conversely, anti-abortion advocates claim it is more democratic to let voters decide the issue through their representatives. Many reject the suggestion that they seek more restrictive abortion laws.
“This is not an abortion ban,” Republican Rep. Tory Marie Arnberger, a supporter of the initiative that helped get it through in August’s election, said in a recent interview with NBC News. “I’m a fan of the fact that every state has its own abortion regulations. Since Roe v. Wade was repealed, that’s now every state’s right, and I think it’s up to each state to decide what’s best for their state,” she added.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortion is legal in Kansas up to about 22 weeks of pregnancy. Under state law, women seeking abortion treatment are subject to several regulations, such as: B. A 24-hour waiting period between the consultation and receipt of the procedure and parental consent for minors.
Still, the rules are much less restrictive than in neighboring states. In Missouri and Oklahoma, legislation went into effect almost immediately after the Supreme Court ruling in late June banning virtually all abortion treatments in those states.
At least 22 states have banned abortion or are about to do so. The new landscape makes Kansas a regional outlier and a safe haven for women in and out of state seeking abortion treatment — but that could diminish or disappear if the measure is passed.
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2022-election/abortion-vote-kansas-may-determine-future-right-state-rcna40550 How the Kansas abortion vote may determine future law in the state