Kansas Votes on Tuesday to Determine Abortion Amendment, FiveThirtyEight Says Vote will be Close

Miguel Daez | August 1, 2022
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A statewide vote is taking place in Kansas on Tuesday that could potentially remove the right to an abortion from the state’s constitution. Voters will head to the polls to decide whether to pass a state constitutional amendment proposal called, "Value Them Both."  The referendum will occur along the primary elections for the state. 

The proposed amendment states the following according to the Catholic News Agency:

...because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion." It would allow laws regarding abortion “to the extent permitted by the Constitution of the United States.

If passed, ABC News explains that the amendment would, in effect, reverse a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision which dictated that a person has a right to abortion under “a right to personal autonomy” in the state’s constitution. The court ruling potentially endangers existing restrictions on abortion within the state that went into effect a few days after Roe v. Wade was overturned. 

Under those restrictions, abortions are permitted only within 20 weeks post-fertilization (“or 22 weeks past the last menstrual period”) under the claim that a fetus feels pain past that time period, and only if the mother’s life or health are severely in danger, according to the Guttmacher Institute.  

Related: States Divided: Louisiana Affirms Life While Mass-Holes End It

If the referendum passes, Republican Kansas legislatures could cement these laws, pass more rigid restrictions and even take advantage of their majority within the state legislature to put a statewide ban on abortion. 

If the referendum doesn’t pass passed, ABC News explains that the status quo will remain, and the 2019 ruling could still be used to block anti-abortion laws. 

Right now, the vote looks very close. According to 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.”

Catholic News Agency also reported that fundraising to put out the vote has been high on both sides of the referendum: 

The Value Them Both Association, which supports the amendment, has received close to $6 million this year. Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, foes of the amendment, took in more than $6.5 million. [. . .] The politically influential abortion provider Planned Parenthood is actively opposing the proposed Kansas amendment. Its national political action committee, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, donated $850,000 to Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. Two Kansas Planned Parenthood affiliates, Planned Parenthood Great Plains and Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, gave a combined $492,000.

ABC News noted that the decision serves as an important “bellwether” or predictor for which way the country is going in a post Roe World. The vote potentially could influence other states and their decisions on the issue as well as the upcoming midterm elections.

 

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