Landslide in Kansas fuels abortion rights movement’s next fights

“Now abortion rights supporters have the opportunity and the responsibility to rebuild pro-choice voting coalitions in states where access has been lost or threatened,” said Rachel Sweet of Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the group that led the fight against the amendment. reporters on Wednesday morning. “The people of Kansas have spoken, and now the rest of the country must listen.”

For abortion advocates cheering after the Supreme Court overturned Caviar in June, the Kansas vote was a devastating blow, but they insist it won’t change their strategy.

It’s a long game, and there are other tools in the toolbox besides voting measures, emphasized Christy Hamrick of Students for the Life of America, one of several national groups that have advertised and sent volunteers to participate in the Kansas Amendment.

“It took us 50 years to decide Caviar. I think we have the time and the people on our side to keep fighting,” she said.

Among the most striking results of the study 59–41 wins The anti-abortion campaign saw anti-abortion groups perform worse even in the reddest parts of the state, such as rural counties along the Colorado border, giving progressives hope their message could resonate beyond the cities and suburbs this fall. . .

“The gap in enthusiasm that normally favors the party that remains in power is closing now, and there was no clearer example of that than yesterday’s Kansas,” said Patrick Gaspard, CEO of the Action Center for the Democratic-affiliated Center for American Progress. told reporters on Wednesday. “This could be a signal for what’s to come.”

The victory in Kansas also galvanizes progressive organizations such as the Fairness Project, a national group that advocates ballot measures as a strategy to bypass GOP state legislatures and governors on everything from expanding Medicaid to transgender rights and abortion.

“Initiative voting is a phenomenally powerful tool when there is a gap between the popularity of an issue and what politicians are doing. And every poll in the country shows this discrepancy when it comes to abortion rights,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project. “This is really the next frontier and supporters are already starting to think about the path forward for 2023 and 2024.”

While less than half of the states allow citizens to collect signatures to amend the constitution for a vote, Hall said many of those who do are “right on the front lines of the fight for reproductive freedom,” including Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska. , North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

On Wednesday, as the dust settled after the Kansas vote, Progressives were already calling on members of like-minded Facebook groups to help gather signatures to bring an abortion rights amendment to Missouri voters in 2023.

“Some of these places you might think are so red that no abortion protection measures will ever succeed,” she said. “But don’t discount these fortunes. Wherever you live, there is hope on the horizon.”

Kansas contest, the first since voters gained the right to abortion directly Caviar has been overturned, has always had the potential to influence the national dialogue, and both sides have invested millions of dollars in television, radio, mail and digital advertising. 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 posted videos encouraging their fans to go to the polls.

But it was the abortion rights messages, which framed the debate about individual rights in language familiar to conservatives, that resonated with voters and helped ensure the amendment’s failure, said Neil Allen, an assistant professor of political science at Wichita State University.

“The ‘no’ campaign rhetoric about government abuse and invasion of privacy has been very successful,” he told POLITICO. “Meanwhile, the big failure of the “yes” proponents is that they failed to convince voters by saying that the amendment would not result in a ban on abortion. If you read the amendment, it was not clear what it would actually do. But we had a few examples or anti-abortion activists and lawmakers publicly talking about wanting a total ban. And it really hurts their side.”

The results were even more startling because the anti-abortion side, which began planning the ballot initiative in 2019, had several advantages. Not only did GOP lawmakers choose the amendment’s language, they scheduled the vote for the August primary, when turnout is typically lower than during the general election. They also knew that there were no competitive Democratic primaries and that independent voters, who outnumber Democrats in the state, could not vote for candidates in the primaries and may not have known they could run on Tuesday.

However, the move backfired, Allen argued.

“Conservative Republicans in the state legislature really missed an opportunity when they said it should be this year’s primary, not the 2020 general election,” he said. “2020 has been a pretty good year for the Republicans here. Rowe vs. Wade everything would still be in place, and voters wouldn’t have the example of other states with total abortion bans.”

Contrary to expectations, voter turnout rose sharply on Tuesday, approaching the level of the general presidential election in some areas.

Conservative groups that have spent the past few months in Kansas calling for the issue of abortion to be taken to the voters lamented the results, blaming “lies that ultimately drowned out the truth” and vowed to redouble their efforts in the Sunflower State and around the world. the world. country.

For some, this means going to court and focusing on narrower issues, such as laws regarding access to abortion pills.

“We have to prioritize, and I think we will prioritize chemical abortion lawsuits,” Hamrick said. “This is a very efficient place to take legal action for us, especially knowing this is the future of abortion. Everyone will have to choose and choose, and we will definitely choose him.”

Anti-abortion groups are also investing tens of millions in congressional races in hopes of flipping the House and Senate and enacting national restrictions on abortion, even as they continue to campaign state and locally.

Mike Kukelman, chairman of the Kansas Republican Party, insisted that, despite the referendum result, abortion would not be decisive in November and that Republicans still had a good chance of ousting incumbent Democrats like the governor. Laura Kelly.

“I don’t see the average person going to the polls with an abortion in mind and saying, ‘I need to vote for this person or against that person because of the abortion issue,'” he said. “I think people go to their polling place and think about how they are not very happy with the state of our economy.”

But abortion advocates like Mallory Carroll of SBA Pro-Life America, are pushing state and federal lawmakers not to run away from abortion as a campaign topic.

“The lesson that pro-abortion candidates should learn from this is that you have to create contrast and go on the offensive,” she said. “Republicans can’t just rely on gas prices, inflation and economic issues, even if they are very important issues, because it gives pro-abortion Democrats the opportunity to determine our pro-life candidates on this issue, and that’s not may be”.