Kansas voters rejected a ballot amendment removing the right to an abortion from their state constitution, the first vote on the issue since the Supreme Court overturned its previous ruling in Roe v. Wade.
The amendment would have overturned a 2019 decision by the state’s Supreme Court that found Kansas’s constitution includes a right to bodily autonomy, which the state Supreme Court justices said includes abortion.
The amendment, which supporters call the “Value Them Both” amendment, would have amended the state constitution to state that “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.” The proposed amendment goes on to grant the state authority to pass laws regulating abortion, including those that “account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”
The amendment itself would not have banned abortion in the state but may have paved the way for the legislature to do so by removing its biggest obstacles to such laws. Many surrounding states have moved to restrict or ban abortion since the Dobbs ruling, resulting in some residents of neighboring states traveling there for abortions.
Kansas leans red, but the tight contest may be an early bellwether of how voters across the country see the issue.
The state currently permits abortion up to 22 weeks, more than halfway through a pregnancy, with restrictions after that point.
Early polls indicated that more voters were supportive of the amendment. However, Democrats appeared more motivated to vote in a typically low-turnout primary contest.
The amendment’s failure may preview how voters may see Democrats’ pitch on abortion as a campaign issue in November, as many in the party seek to run on the issue as they aim to defend their congressional majorities amid President Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and voter concern over inflation.