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People protest in front of the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas, in June.
People protest in front of the Statehouse in Topeka, Kansas, in June. (Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal / AP / File)

Kansas voters decided to uphold abortion rights in their state’s constitution by voting “no” on a proposed constitutional amendment, CNN projects.

That is First popular vote on abortion since the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case in June.

The vote took place after the state Supreme Court in 2019 rule found that the state constitution protects the right to abortion. A “yes” vote on the amendment removes the right to abortion from the state constitution, while a “no” vote maintains that right.

The proposed amendment states: “Because the people of Kansas value both women and children, the Constitution of the State of Kansas does not require the government to fund abortions and does not create or guarantee the right to abortion. “.

Abortion is now legal for up to 22 weeks in Kansas, making the state a haven for procedure-seeking women in neighboring states that have backed away from abortion rights. In response, anti-abortion groups and Republicans have pushed to change the state’s constitution to state that the state does not guarantee the right to the procedure and open the door to similar strict laws in Kansas.

Pro-choice organizations responded with a broad voter effort, viewing the war as a test of the post-Roe era’s abortion politics. And Tuesday’s victory represents a pivotal moment in the ever-changing battle for abortion rights, giving these groups victory just weeks after they were handed a crushing defeat by the Supreme Court.

“Kansas values ​​have always embodied freedom and tonight Kansas continues that legacy,” said Emily Wales, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. “This historic victory is the result of active grassroots support and a broad coalition of sensible, caring Kansasans across the state who put health care above politics.” .

Polls have consistently shown that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is generally unpopular. A CNN poll released in late July found that nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision, with even 55% of those who self-identified as moderate or liberal Republicans saying that They disagree with this decision. But Tuesday’s results, the first electoral test of abortion rights after the Supreme Court decision, set an even better spot for that sentiment.

“This is further proof of what poll after poll has told us,” said Christina Reynolds, a top executive with Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to voting for women with the right to choose. Me: Americans support abortion rights. “They believe we can make our own health care decisions and they will vote accordingly, even in the face of misleading campaigns.”

Winning “no” leaves the state constitution unchanged. While state legislators can still try to pass laws that restrict abortion, the courts in Kansas have recognized the state’s constitutional right to abortion. Lawmakers passed legislation restricting abortion in 2015, but it was permanently blocked by the courts.

The “yes” vote would amend the state’s constitution to say that Kansas “does not require the government to fund abortion and does not create or guarantee the right to abortion.” The vote won’t ban abortion outright, but it will open the door to a prohibited procedure, especially since Republicans control both state legislative chambers and almost every top office except governor, held by Democrat Laura Kelly.

Kelly, who planned to vote no on the bill, warned that a “yes” vote would mean “the Legislature will immediately roll back with some very serious restrictions on its ability to control over the fate of women.”

Besides the victory, the Democrats are also loved by a significant turnout.

The issue was placed on the primary ballot, rather than the general election, which abortion rights advocates believe is intended to limit voter turnout. Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the state by more than 350,000, follow according to the latest figures from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office.

But the win – coupled with increased voter turnout – is another signal that abortion could be a factor driving voters in the red, a key question as Democrats must facing an attempted midterm election.

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