Kansas voters reject anti-abortion constitutional amendment with historic turnout
© WikiMedia Commons (Elvert Barnes)
Kansas voters reject anti-abortion constitutional amendment with historic turnout

Kansas voters Tuesday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment which would have removed abortion protections from the Kansas state constitution. The Kansas Secretary of State unofficially reported that 59 percent of voters rejected the amendment while 41 percent would have adopted it.

Anti-abortion advocates hoped to amend the state constitution to stipulate that “the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.” After voters rejected the measure, US Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS) said words “could never express the sadness and emotion” he felt.

In the aftermath of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, states are free to ban and restrict abortion within their borders. In Kansas, however, constitutional protections prevent anti-abortion laws from taking effect. In 2019 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt that the Kansas Constitution protects “Kansans’ natural right of personal autonomy,” including the decision to end or continue a pregnancy.

Officials have counted 908,745 votes as of Wednesday morning. In comparison, analyst Steve Kornacki noted that 473,000 Kansans voted in the 2018 primary and 1,159,000 Kansans voted in the 2012 presidential election.

Pro-choice advocates invoked the memory of Dr. George Tiller during their campaign. Tiller, one of only a handful of doctors who performed abortions late in pregnancy, was murdered on May 31, 2009, in his Witchita church by an anti-abortion extremist. Law professor and Kansas native Greer Donley stated, “Dr. Tiller would be proud” of Tuesday’s results. Donley also noted that Kansas’ proximity to states that have already restricted or banned abortion, like Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, makes it “incredibly important for access.” President Joe Biden called the results an “important victory.”