“Abortion rights supporters now have an opportunity and an obligation to rebuild pro-choice voting coalitions in states where access has been lost or at risk,” said Rachel Sweet with Kansans for Constitutional Freedoms, a group fighting the amendment. Wednesday morning reporters. “The people of Kansas have spoken and now the rest of the country must listen.”
Anti-abortion advocates are happy after the Supreme Court overturned cry In June, the Kansas vote was a crushing blow, but they insisted it would not change their strategy.
It’s a long game and there are more tools in the toolbox besides ballot measures, emphasized Christy Hamrick with Students for Life of America — one of several national groups running ads and sending volunteers to canvass for the Kansas amendment.
“It took us 50 years to address it cry. I think we have time and people on our side to continue the fight,” she said.
Among the more striking results in the 59 to 41 victory for the “No” campaign was that anti-abortion groups fared poorly even in the reddest parts of the state, such as rural counties bordering Colorado, giving progressives an injection of hope. Their message may resonate beyond the city and suburbs this fall.
“The enthusiasm gap — which typically favors keeping the party out of power — is now closing, and there was no greater example than in Kansas yesterday,” said Patrick Gaspard, CEO of the Democratic Party-affiliated Center for American Progress Action Fund. told reporters on Wednesday. “This could be a sign of things to come.”
The Kansas victory is also emboldening progressive organizations like the Fairness Project, a national group that advocates for ballot measures as a strategy to get GOP state legislators and governors on everything from Medicaid expansion to transgender rights and abortion.
“Ballot initiatives are an extraordinarily powerful tool when there’s a disconnect between the popularity of an issue and its implementation by politicians. And every poll in the country shows that disconnect when it comes to abortion rights,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project. And already advocates are starting to think about pathways for 2023 and 2024.”
While less than half of states allow citizens to collect signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, Hall said many of them are “right on the front lines of the fight for reproductive freedom,” including Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, and Nebraska. , North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.
On Wednesday, as the dust settled from the Kansas vote, progressives were already asking like-minded Facebook group members to help collect signatures to put an abortion rights amendment before Missouri voters in 2023.
“Some of these places you think are so deep red that no method of preventing abortion will ever succeed,” she said. “But don’t close these states. Wherever you live, there’s hope on the horizon.”
The Kansas contest is the first to put abortion-rights directly to voters cry Overturned, always had the potential to shape the national conversation, and both sides poured millions of dollars into TV, radio, mail and digital ads. Hundreds of staff and volunteers flew in from across the country to knock on hundreds of thousands of doors. Celebrities and musicians with ties to the state released videos urging their fans to vote.
But it was the abortion-rights message, which framed the debate around individual rights in language familiar to conservatives, that resonated with voters and helped ensure the amendment would fail, said Neil Allen, an associate professor of political science at Wichita State University.
“The rhetoric of the ‘No’ campaign about government overreach and intrusion into personal lives was very successful,” he told Politico. “Meanwhile, the big failure of the ‘Yes’ side is that they couldn’t believe voters when they said the amendment wouldn’t ban abortion. If you read the amendment, it wasn’t clear what it would actually do. But we have anti-abortion activists and legislators fully There were many instances of them talking publicly about wanting a ban. And that really hurt their side.”
The results were all the more remarkable because the anti-abortion side, which began planning a ballot initiative in 2019, had many advantages. GOP lawmakers not only chose the amendment’s wording, they also scheduled the vote for the August primary election, when turnout is typically lower than during general elections. They also knew there were no competitive Democratic primaries, and that unaffiliated voters—who outnumber Democrats in the state—couldn’t vote for candidates in the primaries and might not know they could participate on Tuesday.
Yet that move backfired, Allen argued.
“Conservative Republicans in the state legislature really missed an opportunity when they said it should be in the primary this year and not the general election in 2020,” he said. “2020 was a good year for Republicans here. Roe v. Wade would still be in place, and voters would not have the precedent of other states with total abortion bans. “
Defying expectations, voter turnout rose on Tuesday — nearing presidential general election levels in some areas.
Conservative groups that have spent the past several months calling for the abortion question to be put to the voters in Kansas blamed “lies that ultimately drowned out the truth” and vowed to redouble their efforts in and around the Sunflower State. the country
For some, that means going to court, and focusing on narrower issues like laws surrounding access to abortion pills.
“We have to prioritize, and I think we will prioritize the issues related to chemical abortion,” Hamrick said. “This is a very effective place for us to have lawsuits, especially knowing that this is the future of abortion. Everyone has to pick and choose and that’s definitely what we’re going to choose.”
Even as anti-abortion-rights groups continue to campaign at the state and local level, they are pouring millions into congressional races in hopes of flipping the House and Senate and passing national abortion bans.
Kansas GOP Chairman Mike Kuckelman insists that despite the referendum result, abortion will not be decisive in November and that Republicans have a good chance of unseating Democratic incumbents such as Gov. Laura Kelly.
“I don’t see the average person going to the polling place with abortion in mind, saying they should vote for this person or against that person because of the abortion issue,” he said. “I think people are going to their polling places and thinking about how they’re not happy with the state of our economy.”
But anti-abortion advocates, such as Mallory Carroll with SBA Pro-Life America, State and federal lawmakers are pushing to make abortion a campaign issue.
“The lesson that pro-life candidates should take from this is that you have to run the contrast and go on the offense,” she said. “Republicans can’t just rely on gas prices, inflation and economic issues, even though they’re very important issues, because that gives pro-abortion Democrats the space to define our pro-life candidates on this issue, and that’s it. What can’t happen.”