Kansans Reject Anti-Abortion Measure—and It’s Not Even Close

Voters overwhelmingly . against a measure that would have allowed abortion to be banned in Kansas in the first post-Roe test of abortion’s legality put directly to the people.

As of Wednesday morning—with 95 percent of precincts reporting—the vote was 58.8 percent against and 41.2 percent for, according to The New York Times.

The ballot measure would have amended the Kansas constitution to state that it did not protect the right to have an abortion. Such an amendment would open the gates for state lawmakers to ban abortion—an option currently blocked by a 2019 state Supreme Court finding that the Kansas Constitution’s guarantee of “equal and inalienable rights” included a “natural right of personal autonomy” that protected abortion access .

But voters yesterday gave a resounding no to the question “should the Kansas constitution be amended to remove protections of abortion rights?”

The vote isn’t the result of low turnout—Kansans voted on the abortion measure in numbers normally not seen in non-general elections.

Nor is it a result of August elections typically favoring more liberal voters. “When the Legislature’s GOP supermajority placed the amendment on the ballot last year they picked the election most likely to favor the amendment,” notes The Kansas City Star. “August primaries have disproportionately high Republican turnout because primaries in Kansas are often uncontested.”

And it doesn’t turn on results from more liberal urban areas or university towns alone. Suburban Johnson county overwhelmingly voted against it:

Rural counties such as Franklin and Osage also voted against the amendment “by significant margins,” reports the Star. And even many rural counties that voted for it did so by smaller margins than they did for Donald Trump in 2020.

Whether Kansas is a good bellwether for the rest of the country on this issue is debatable. But Kansas is a relatively conservative and Republican state, and residents voting against an anti-abortion initiative at least suggest that conservative enthusiasm for banning abortion might not be as strong as many.

Of course, Kansans voting down this ballot measure doesn’t mean they wouldn’t support a 15-week limit on legal abortion or other more moderate restrictions. But a total ban—which the measure would have allowed for—doesn’t seem to have majority support.

Does this mean Democrats will benefit from calling out GOP extremism on abortion? Some think so.

‘It’s clear there are more than a few Republican voters who oppose extreme anti-abortion restrictions. Suggests opportunities for Democrats in November with a ‘vote against anti-abortion extremism’ message,” conservative pundit Bill Kristol tweeted.

The vote is “a warning to Republicans who had celebrated the Supreme Court ruling and were moving swiftly with abortion bans or near-bans in nearly half the states,” and “a dash of hope for Democrats nationwide grasping for a game-changer during an election year otherwise filled with dark omens for their prospects in November,” the Associated Press suggests.

I’m not as convinced. In my experience, few moderates and Republicans are single-minded attached to protecting abortion rights. They may oppose premium bans, but they won’t reject an otherwise simpatico candidate who supports them (or vote for a liberal just because that candidate opposes them). Meanwhile, Republican candidates are—probably now more than ever—under pressure from pro-life factions, who still make up much of their base. Which means Republican politicians and lawmakers still have a lot to gain and little to lose from opposing legal abortion. And Republican-controlled legislatures are likely to keep proposing and passing extreme abortion bans, even if these bans aren’t universally popular among their constituents or wanted by a majority of their state’s residents.

That’s why abortion ballot initiatives like this one in Kansas are a good way to actually leave the question of abortion’s legality up to the residents of each state.

Several other abortion ballot measures are forthcoming. A measure similar to the one that just failed in Kansas will be on the ballot in Kentucky this November, while the question of whether the state constitution should protect abortion rights explicitly will go to voters in Vermont and also likely in Michigan.

In other abortion-related news:

• The Department of Justice is suing Idaho over its abortion ban.

• Residents of Georgia can now list embryos and fetuses as dependents on their tax returns. In new guidance released yesterday, the Georgia Department of Revenue said it “will recognize any unborn child with a detectable human heartbeat…as eligible for the Georgia individual income tax independent exemption.”


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Let Republican spam be marked spam! Some Republicans want to ban Google and Apple from marking political campaign emails as spam, and they’re using the prospect of political bias to garner support for this proposal. “The consultant class of the GOP is pushing the mythology that Google and Apple are flagging their emails because tech companies hate Republicans,” notes conservative pundit Erick Erickson. But it’s Republican email tactics that are the problem, he suggests.


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A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research looks at the short- and long-term effects of minimum wage increases:

You can find the full paper here.


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• House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) is visiting Taiwan this week, despite warnings against it from Beijing. The trip “is needless and backsides, with obvious downsides and no clear upsides,” suggests Bonnie Kristian. “In fact, the best possible result of this visit is maintenance of the status quo. The worst possible result is unspeakably grim.”

• Republican Rep. Peter Meijer lost his primary race in Michigan to a candidate that Democrats showered with support precisely because he’s a more extreme conservative:

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• The Bureau of Prisons is under fire for “gross misconduct” at a federal prison in Atlanta.

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