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Yesterday’s Huge Win in Kansas Proves Abortion Is a Right People Will Show Up To Protect

A sign reading "Save Choice Vote No August 2nd" with images of sunflowers around the border

Going into August 2nd’s primary election in Kansas, the fight for abortion rights was an uncertain nail-biter. There wasn’t much polling around the proposed abortion referendum and what polling there was showed things at just about an even 50/50 split. Incredibly, the actual result was much different. The effort to strip Kansans of their right to state constitutionally protected abortion died with nearly 60% of voters opposing it.

​​In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that abortion was a protected right under the state constitution. Anti-abortion organizers in Kansas put a proposal on yesterday’s ballot, which would have reversed that ruling and added an amendment to the state constitution giving lawmakers the ability to ban abortion.

Anti-abortion advocates played as dirty as possible leading up to this vote. They chose to put the amendment on a primary ballot, which typically sees much, much lower voter turnout than a November election. That’s especially true in a state like Kansas, which has more unaffiliated voters than it does Democrats, and primaries give unaffiliated voters little incentive to show up. Well, that didn’t work because this election saw more than double the turnout of a typical primary—over 900,000 voters compared to the usual 400–450K, according to MSNBC.

The people who crafted the amendment also relied on deliberately deceptive language, clearly hoping to confuse voters as to what the amendment actually did. That also didn’t work and possibly worked against them in the end. People don’t like knowing someone is trying to trick them, and this attempt to pull one over on voters was pretty transparent.

In the end, Kansas voters showed up in huge numbers to reject this attempt to rob them of their right to make their own reproductive choices. This is an incredible win for Kansans—and for people in heavily restrictive bordering states who rely on being able to access abortion in Kansas if necessary—and it also has major implications for the future of abortion rights nationwide.

When the Supreme Court handed down its decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Kansas saw a 1000% increase in voter registration. This is an issue people care about and will turn out for, and one that has fierce activists and organizers doing incredible work around.

Anti-abortion advocates thought they could count on complacency and deception to win this vote and they lost. And if they lost in Kansas by this huge of a margin, it’s hard to imagine where they could win if we keep fighting.

(image: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.