Kansas abortion vote: Pro-life amendment fails, in first post-Roe vote
Kansas citizens rejected a pro-life amendment -- known as the "Value Them Both" amendment -- during their state's primary election Tuesday. The referendum represented the first major statewide vote on abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
The amendment needed a simple majority to pass in the Aug. 2 vote.
It would have reversed the Kansas Supreme Court's 2019 ruling that the state's constitution protects a woman's right to abortion. Currently, state lawmakers are, in most cases, prohibited from passing any type of abortion restriction.
The amendment would have enabled state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate or restrict abortion. It did not propose a total ban on abortion.
"Because Kansans value both women and children," the failed amendment reads, "the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion."
It adds: "To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother."
The vote has broad implications that extend past Kansas' borders. It could indicate how other states will vote on abortion after the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization -- which overturned Roe and left abortion policy up to the states -- and suggest where Americans stand on abortion ahead of the midterm elections in November.
It also helps predict whether Kansas serves as an abortion hub for women in neighboring states that restrict abortion.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortions could increase by more than 1,000% in Kansas as neighboring states restrict the procedure, the Kansas City Star previously reported.
SBA Pro-Life America, a national pro-life group that sent student canvassers to hundreds of thousands of Kansas homes to inform citizens about the vote, mourned the loss.
"Tonight's loss is a huge disappointment for pro-life Kansans and Americans nationwide," Mallory Carroll, spokeswoman for SBA Pro-Life America, said in a statement.
She pointed to misinformation leading up to the vote, saying that the "abortion lobby's message to voters was rife with lies that ultimately drowned out the truth."
"Because of tonight's results, Kansas could shortly become home to unrestricted abortion on demand -- even late-term abortion without limits, paid for by taxpayers," she cautioned. "The people and their elected legislators now have no recourse to use the tools of democracy to enact laws that reflect consensus."
Looking ahead, Carroll stressed the importance of the midterm elections in November.
"The stakes for the pro-life movement in the upcoming midterm elections could not be higher, and there will be many more factors in play," she said. "It is critical that pro-life candidates go on offense to expose the extremism of Democrats' policy goals for nationalized abortion on demand paid for by taxpayers."
She thanked the Value Them Both coalition, which supported the amendment, and SBA Pro-Life America's Kansas allies.
"The pro-life movement's call to politics and policy did not end with the Dobbs decision, rather, because of that victory we must work exponentially harder to achieve and maintain protections for unborn children and their mothers," she said.