Kansas voters demonstrated their intent to protect reproductive rights yesterday when they turned out to vote against a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would have allowed the primarily conservative legislature to restrict or ban abortions outright, according to the Associated Press. The statewide vote serves as the country’s first barometer of public sentiment around abortion rights since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade in June.
“I am sort of speechless. I’m so proud to be a provider in this community,” Iman Alsaden, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told The Kansas City Star. “I’m so proud that I get to serve this community. I moved here two years ago from Chicago with the intention of providing abortion care in a place where there were not a lot of providers. It’s sort of unbelievable. I’m so proud to be able to go to work tomorrow and talk to my staff and give everyone a hug.”
Around 940,000 Kansas voters participated in the referendum, according to The New York Times.
Despite the dominance of Republican primary candidates on the ballot, abortion rights advocates were stunned to find themselves nearly 20 percentage points ahead by the time election officials had counted over 90 percent of the votes late Tuesday night. Many were also surprised to see how poorly abortion opponents fared even in rural, decidedly conservative areas of the state.
“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,” President Joe Biden said in a statement.
The news may be encouraging for Democratic contenders in the lead-up to midterm elections this fall. However, abortion opponents maintain that they will not be dissuaded. A spokesperson from a Kansas coalition campaigning in favor of the anti-abortion amendment described the result of the referendum as “a temporary setback” and stated that their “dedicated fight to value women and babies is far from over.”
Vermont residents will cast their votes in November to determine whether the state’s constitution is to adopt a provision protecting abortion rights. A similar amendment will likely be on the ballot for Michigan voters this fall as well.