If we feel so strongly about abortion rights, so must the nation

Clearly a substantial number of Republicans voted against the measure, likely viewing it as either government overreach or an affront to women's reproductive rights

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Editorials

August 3, 2022 - 3:12 PM

Allie Utley of Iola, right, and Jae Moyer, center, of Overland Park, cheer at a gathering of supporters for the Kansans for Constitutional Freedom Tuesday, Aug. 2. (Tammy Ljungblad/Kansas City Star/TNS)

It’s not often Kansans feel their votes have a national impact. 

But on Tuesday, we sent the country the message that a majority of everyday citizens feel that women should have access to abortion.

And no, it’s not a free-for-all.

Kansas will continue to have some of the strictest laws in the nation, regulating abortion to 22 weeks from gestation, requiring parental consent of minors, ultrasounds and waiting periods, etc.

With Tuesday’s referendum, Kansans simply said we want to keep these protections and not ban abortion outright, which, make no mistake, was the likely outcome if the measure were to go before the state legislature, where a majority of ultra-conservative Republicans hold a scorched-earth approach to women’s rights.

IF KANSANS feel this way, then so must the rest of the nation.

After all, we went solidly for Donald Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. 

But when it came to further restricting abortion, a significant number of Republicans voted against the Value Them Both measure.

In Allen County, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 3-to1, the referendum is currently ahead by a scant 20 votes, 1,836 to 1,818, indicating that many Republicans likely viewed the measure as either governmental overreach or an affront to women’s reproductive rights.

Statewide, voter turnout wildly exceeded expectations — about double that of the 2018 mid-term primary — likely because of the constitutional amendment, which was defeated by double-digits, 59% to 41%.

The high turnout proves Kansans don’t take their constitutional rights lightly. 

The vote also sends the message that the U.S. Supreme Court was sorely out of step with the national conscience when it overturned Roe v. Wade, as are other state leaders in their ultra-conservative zealotry to rob women of such personal decisions. 

The high court’s ruling spurred voter registration. In Kansas, 70% of those who registered to vote after the June 24 decision were women.

KANSAS is the first state to give voters the opportunity weigh in on abortion since the high court eliminated it as a constitutional right. Our hope is that other states do likewise. We say that begrudgingly, because in truth the U.S. Constitution should be the umbrella that guarantees such protections. Our founding fathers devised the Constitution so that it protects the inherent rights of everyone, while ignoring the prevailing political winds.

Such important issues should not hinge on whether a majority of the people in a state can be persuaded to come to the polls. That Kansas legislators forced the issue to a public vote, rather than produce compassionate laws, only served to further divide communities.

BECAUSE the measure was so soundly defeated, our hope now is that we can finally put it on the shelf. 

Pull up the yard signs. Ditch the T-shirts. And be determined to find common ground, lest we’ll be irretrievably pulled asunder.

— Susan Lynn

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