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US abortion rights: Kansas votes to preserve abortion protections

US abortion rights: Kansas votes to preserve abortion protections

Voters in the US state of Kansas rejected a ballot measure on Tuesday, which would have allowed state lawmakers to tighten restrictions or even ban the procedure altogether.

It was the first significant poll on abortion since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, thereby removing constitutional protection for the procedure on a federal level.

With most of the vote counted, the pro-choice camp was prevailing by roughly 20 percentage points, and turnout approached what’s typical for a fall election for governor.

While Kansas is just one state, it is reliably conservative in national elections and has deep ties to the anti-abortion movement. Activists said the result proved where voters stand regarding abortion, even across party lines.

“A coalition of voters across the political spectrum came together today and voted no,” said Ashley All, spokesperson for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, campaigning to defeat the amendment.

 “They voted no to protect their neighbours. And they voted no on changing the Constitution. And really, you know, demonstrated our free state roots here in Kansas are alive and well.”

The proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution would have added language stating that it does not grant the right to abortion. 

A 2019 state Supreme Court decision declared that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the state’s Bill of Rights, preventing a ban and potentially thwarting legislative efforts to enact new restrictions.

The referendum was closely watched as a barometer of liberal and moderate voters’ anger over the Supreme Court’s ruling scrapping the nationwide right to abortion. 

The decisive victory serves as a warning to Republicans who had celebrated the Supreme Court ruling and were moving swiftly with abortion bans or near-bans in nearly half the states.

It also provides a glimmer of hope for Democrats nationwide ahead of the midterm elections in November.

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