Kansas voters rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have overturned a state supreme court ruling that manufactured a right to abortion in the state constitution.
The proposed amendment, which was defeated by a 59%-41% margin, read:
§ 22. Regulation of abortion. 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. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.
This was the first public test of pro-abortion sentiment since the Supreme Court ruled there was no federal Constitutional right to abortion in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health. Both sides were well-financed.
What does it mean?
The most important takeaway is that a ballot measure that outlaws the horrific practice will be demagogued with images of women dying in emergency rooms because abortion is needed to save their lives. As fanciful as this scenario is, it is a powerful one; it is easy to understand, and pro-life legislators must keep this in mind when drafting a ballot measure.
In Kansas, abortion ran way ahead of Joe Biden in 2020. In every county, the “No” vote beat Biden’s total.
“No” on Kansas abortion amendment outpacing Biden’s performance in counties across the state — currently about 145K votes counted pic.twitter.com/jvQ8rhL9wn
— Kabir Khanna (@kabir_here) August 3, 2022
This map shows the strength of the “No” vote by county.
Just for fun, here’s a map of the abortion amd vote, w/ ~95% reporting, with blue being NO and red being YES. pic.twitter.com/gysNhKWoz0
— Ethan C7 (@ECaliberSeven) August 3, 2022
This one shows the shift in votes from the 2020 general election.
One of the most interesting facts about last night’s Kansas abortion referendum: rural counties actually swung MORE toward NO than urban/suburban counties, compared to 2020 Prez.
The map below is the swing from 2020 Prez to 2022 Amd, RELATIVE to the state. pic.twitter.com/PBtJRsk6Tx
— Ethan C7 (@ECaliberSeven) August 3, 2022
You can see that in most counties, the “No” vote did not do as well as the Trump-Pence ticket.
Kansas is a closed primary state, and the presence of the referendum on the ballot drew over 181,000 votes more than those cast in the gubernatorial primary. So the issue did motivate a lot of voters. The primary turnout was a stunning 66% of the total votes in the general election in 2020.
The leftist media has taken the outcome in Kansas as something of a triumphalist vindication of their worldview. For instance, this is how Politico evaluates the voting:
IN KANSAS … A POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE — By a stunning, roughly 20-point margin, Kansas voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have given state lawmakers the chance to either further restrict or ban abortions in the state. Turnout swelled — “approaching what’s typical for a fall election for governor,” per the AP — and the “no” vote did well not just in Democratic strongholds, but in conservative and rural areas, outperforming JOE BIDEN’s 2020 vote share there.
It marked the first time since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade that voters had a chance to directly weigh in on abortion rights.
The result is “a political earthquake with the potential to reshape the entire midterm campaign,” David Siders, Adam Wren and Zach Montellaro write in their rundown of election takeaways.
Reporting from Kansas our Alice Miranda Ollstein writes that “the vote also countered the narrative that the abortion issue is a bigger motivator for conservative voters, and may signal a warning to Republican lawmakers across the country that the Roe decision may generate considerable backlash over the coming months and years.
“Politically, the outcome is sure to reverberate across the country and buoy the Democrats’ bid to capitalize on the overturning of Roe in the midterm battle for Congress this fall. It will lift the party’s hopes that anger over the Supreme Court’s decision will matter more than concerns about inflation and the President JOE BIDEN‘s leadership, allowing Democrats to maintain their narrow majorities on Capitol Hill,” she writes.
I think that overstates the significance of the Kansas vote by a wide margin.
In Kansas, there was a stand-alone referendum on abortion. It may be possible to generate outrage on an issue but to make the three-cushion bank shot from a single issue to “this candidate doesn’t like abortion, so women will die” strikes me as farfetched. Polling everywhere shows that Dobbs dispirited Molochites and left them less likely to vote (New Poll Hints That Defending Abortion Is Not the Killer Issue the Democrats Thought Would Save Them From Voters in November),
There are places to be concerned.
Kentucky has a 2022 ballot measure very much like that in Kansas, declaring:
Are you in favor of amending the Constitution of Kentucky by creating a new Section of the Constitution to be numbered Section 26A to state as follows: To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion?
Kentucky polling, though, shows that a majority of Kentuckians, about 57%, think abortion should be outlawed in all cases. So if the Kansas effect holds, then you might see a spike in voters who show up to vote on that question and collaterally vote against pro-aborts on the ballot.
Montana has an abortion-related issue on the ballot that requires medical care to be provided for infants born alive despite an attempt to kill them. I can’t see how you can rile up voters on the theme “I wanted it dead, so it has to stay dead,” but who knows.
The lesson to be learned from this experience is that the Pro-Life movement needs to regroup and reconsider its tactics. We worked for 50 years to overturn Roe vs. Wade and return the measure to the states. Finally, we have what we campaigned for. Now it is incumbent upon us to learn how to fight in that new battlespace. This thread sums up the situation much better than I could.
Seeing surprise and even anger from fellow pro-lifers about the results from Kansas last night. On the one hand, this reaction makes good sense. Kansans are very pro-life and in order for their views to be reflected in law the referendum had to pass. It failed, 59-41.
— Charlie Camosy (@CCamosy) August 3, 2022
Now Kanas will become a bastion of abortion extremism, including welcoming abortion tourism from other states. Virtually no resident wants that. Furthermore, didn’t Louisiana just pass a similar measure, 61 percent to 38 percent?
It seems less strange, however, if one keeps in mind that our most motivated opponents across the country have been preparing (and especially fundraising) for last night since ABC was confirmed. (Some since Kavanagh was confirmed.) $$$$ played a huge role:
Once Dobbs fell, our most motivated (and well paid) opponents sprung into action, particularly when it came to planting deeply sympathetic (if misleading and even false) stories about women whose lives would be put at risk by laws protecting prenatal justice. It was impressive.
Perhaps never really believing that Roe/Casey would fall, pro-lifers were caught flat-footed. Also the LA ballot measure success, coupled with groupthink created by the great sort and social media algorithms, gave pro-lifers a false sense of security, esp in so-called red states.
But it is more than just losing out to money and a better ground-game. It is the fact that prospects of abortion bans into the early first trimester are just not that popular. On the other hand, over 70 percent of Americans want abortion banned, with exceptions, after 12 weeks.
That’s where pro-lifers (with a certain amount of state-by-state flexibility) need to live. Plus we need to make our model legislation absolutely clear…ABSOLUTELY ONE MILLION PERCENT CLEAR…that physicians can do whatever is necessary to save the mother’s life. period
Yes, even if that language is added there will continue to be dishonest players claiming they “just aren’t sure” and “maybe they still feel like women need to die because of pro-life laws.” But those extremists don’t decide the elections. Pro-lifers need to protect women. period
I don’t want to say that the defeat last night was a good thing, but it could perhaps be turned into a good thing if the pro-life movements wake up to the struggle which comes next. If you were lulled into a false sense of security post-Dobbs, that is now officially over.
Let’s work harder, smarter, and leave absolutely no doubt that we are there to protect, support, and love both mothers and their prenatal children.
In the famous last words of union organizer and convicted murderer Joe Hill, “Don’t mourn, organize.”