Abortion is on the Kansas primary ballot in reference to reproductive rights

know about Abortion is on the Kansas primary ballot in reference to reproductive rights

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After the annulment of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, “trigger laws” went into effect in several states that restricted access to abortion.

Now, with voters poised to decide whether to limit abortions in other states, the map of access to reproductive care may be redrawn.

The first, on Tuesday, is Kansas, where voters will weigh in during a primary election on an amendment to the state constitution that would limit access to abortion. The result will serve as an early sign of how Roe’s overturn has motivated voters on both sides of the political spectrum.

“Kansas is an interesting test case,” said Heather Shumaker, state director for abortion access at the National Women’s Law Center. Fortune. She points out that it is surprising that a constitutional amendment is on the ballot during a primary election, when voter turnout is typically lower than during a general election. No other state has an abortion-related measure on its primary ballot.

During the last Kansas primary election in 2020, voter turnout was only about half of what it was for the general election later in the year.

Ashley All, a spokeswoman for Kansas for Constitutional Freedom, a bipartisan organization focused on protecting the rights of Kansans to make “personal health care decisions,” said Fortune that the amendment’s presence on the primary ballot “is highly unusual.”

“I think it will tell us how this issue motivates voters,” says All. In Kansas, registered Republican voters make up 44% of the electorate, she says, while unaffiliated voters outnumber registered Democrats by 30% to 26%, respectively. Today’s election results will therefore give insight into how the reproductive rights issue influences unregistered voters.

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“I’ve worked in politics in Kansas for 18 years, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the energy, the lines, especially in a primary that I’ve seen in the last few weeks, culminating this past weekend and today,” All says.

If ultimately passed, the amendment would counter a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that affirmed access to abortion as part of a person’s right to personal autonomy. In the 2020 state general election, the Republican Party won majorities in both state houses, allowing the amendment to make it to the ballot Tuesday.

The text of the proposed amendment states: “Because Kansans value both women and children, the Kansas state constitution does not require the government to fund abortion and does not create or guarantee abortion rights. To the extent permitted by the United States Constitution, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass abortion laws, including, but not limited to, laws that take into account the circumstances of pregnancy as a result of a violation or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother”.

The Value Them Both pro-life coalition, made up of Kansas Family Voice, Kansas for Life and the Kansas Catholic Conference, advocated for the amendment’s place on the ballot. The coalition did not respond to Fortunecomment request.

While the amendment would not outright ban abortion, it would position the state government to overturn its earlier state Supreme Court decision to pass legislation restricting abortion.

“It would render any abortion rights in the state useless,” Shumaker says of the amendment. Access to abortion is already significantly limited in Kansas, with any abortion performed 22 weeks after conception prohibited.

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Later this year, Kentucky voters will vote on a similar measure that Kansas voters are deciding today. Meanwhile, voters in California and Vermont will decide whether to protect abortion access under state law.

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