Voters in the state of Kansas flocked to the polls Tuesday to strike down an anti-abortion ballot measure in a forceful rebuke of the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of Roe v. Wade.
The non-binding referendum would have cleared the way for lawmakers to ban or restrict abortion was the first time voters in the US were asked to weigh in on the right to choose since the high court overturned five decades of federal reproductive protections in June.
Kansans voted against Amendment 2 by a margin of 62% to 38% with 76% of precincts reporting Tuesday night.
The large margin came amid nationwide discontent over Roe v. Wade.
“The Supreme Court’s extreme decision to overturn Roe v. Wade put women’s health and lives at risk. Tonight, the American people had something to say about it,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
“This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions.”
Voting on the proposition was less bipartisan than usual because it was open to Kansas’ more than half a million unaffiliated voters on a primary day when the state’s registered voters were choosing gubernatorial candidates.
If passed, the measure would have cleared the way for the state legislature to overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court decision that protected the procedure in the Kansas Bill of Rights.
Proponents of the measure in Topeka wouldn’t say if they would have moved to ban abortion if it had passed, as they sought to court votes from moderates who supported abortion restrictions, not outright prohibition.
The Republican-led legislature had however spent decades pursuing new limitations, and lawmakers in ten other states in the Midwest and Deep South had recently implemented abortion bans, including neighboring Oklahoma and Missouri.
Activists on both sides of the issue had spent $14 million lobbying voters in the state, including abortion providers and the anti-abortion Catholic Church.
Chandler Alton, 28, of Overland Park, voted against Amendment 2.
“Abortion is health care and the government shouldn’t have a say on whether women receive what could be life-saving care,” Alton said, adding that she would support candidates who wouldn’t “let this kind of thing happen.”
Stephanie Kostreva, a 40-year-old Democrat from Olathe, voted to approve the measure due to her Christian religious beliefs.
“I’m not full scale that there should never be an abortion,” she said. “I know there are medical emergencies and when the mother’s life is in danger there is no reason for two people to die.”
Abortion is currently legal in Kansas until a woman is in her 22nd week of pregnancy. GOP-led efforts to pass tighter restrictions had been hampered in recent years by federal court decisions and Democratic leaders like Gov. Laura Kelly, who won her party’s nomination Tuesday.
Kelly will face off against newly minted Republican nominee Derek Schmidt in her bid for a second term.
Further down the ballot, Secretary of State Scott Schwab fended off a Republican primary challenger who had parroted former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud in the 2020 election. Schwab had repeatedly refuted Trump’s assertions.
With AP wires