United States: Kansas votes to guarantee the right to abortion in a test ballot

Many conservative states have already banned or intend to quickly ban any right to abortion, after the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel this right at the federal level.

The voters of Kansas, in the American Midwestspoke out on Tuesday for the maintenance of the constitutional guarantee on abortion, during the first major ballot on abortion since the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the federal right to abortion.

Voters in this conservative state rejected an amendment that would have removed language guaranteeing the right to abortion in the state Constitution and could have paved the way for stricter regulation or a ban.

This election was seen as a political test at the national level, many conservative states having already banned or intending to quickly ban any right to abortion.

“The people of Kansas stood up for basic rights”

As soon as the result was announced, abortion rights advocates celebrated their side’s victory in the highly controversial debate taking place in the United States. This is a “remarkable” result, said Ashley All, spokesperson for the abortion rights campaign. “The people of Kansas understood that this amendment would impose government control over private medical decisions,” she said.

“Kansans stood up for basic rights today,” Kansas Democratic Governor Laura Kelly tweeted.

Significant mobilization

Moments after the polls closed, Kansas election overseer Scott Schwab said turnout was at least 50%, a figure in line with expectations for this type of poll.

At noon, nearly 250 voters had passed through the Olathe polling station, in the suburbs of Kansas City, the same number at this time as during a presidential election, according to electoral agent Marsha Barrett.

“This election is crazy,” she said. “People are determined to vote.”

Questions in other States

Although abortion advocates have won a clear victory in Kansas, they are watching with concern neighboring states Missouri and Oklahoma, which have imposed near-total bans. Missouri does not allow exceptions for rape or incest.

Other states, including California and Kentucky, are due to vote on the issue in November, coinciding with midterm congressional elections in which Republicans and Democrats hope to rally their supporters around abortion.

The result in Kansas means that abortion will remain legal until 22 weeks of pregnancy. Parental authorization is required for minors.

A conservative state

The vote, which coincided with the Kansas primaries, represented the first opportunity for American voters to express their views on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned its landmark 1973 decision, Roe v. Wade.

Democrats strongly support abortion rights, while conservatives generally support at least some restrictions.

But in Kansas, the political reality is more complicated. The state leans heavily Republican and has not voted for a Democrat in the White House since 1964. But Kansas’ most populous county elected a Democrat, Sharice Davids, to the House of Representatives in 2018, and the governor of state, Laura Kelly, is a Democrat.

According to a 2021 poll, less than 20% of Kansas respondents agreed that abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape or incest.

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