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Kansas votes to preserve abortion rights

Voters in Kansas have rejected a push to deny the right to abortion in an early indicator of whether the issue will motivate voters in the US midterm elections.

August 3, 2022
By Gabriella Borter
3 August 2022

Kansas voters have rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have declared there is no right to abortion, Edison Research projects, delivering a win to abortion rights advocates in a deeply conservative US state.

The vote was the first statewide referendum on abortion since the US Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade decision in June. 

The ballot question drew national attention as an early indicator of whether abortion rights will motivate voters in November’s midterm elections.

The amendment’s failure will prevent Kansas’ Republican-led legislature from passing severe abortion restrictions without violating the state constitution.

It will also preserve a key abortion access point in America’s heartland. Patients travel to Kansas for abortions from Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and other states that have banned the procedure almost entirely since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, the 1973 case that legalised abortion nationwide.

Kansas’ Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the state constitution protected abortion rights. As a result, Kansas has maintained more lenient policies than other conservative neighbours.

The state allows abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy with several additional restrictions including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and mandatory parental consent for minors.

Tuesday’s vote came as five states held primary elections for the November 8 midterms, with candidates endorsed by former president Donald Trump locking up Republican nominations.

In Michigan, Tudor Dixon, a conservative commentator who has echoed Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, won the Republican nomination for governor and will face Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Kansas Attorney-General Derek Schmidt, another Trump-backed candidate, secured the Republican nomination for governor. He will face Democratic Governor Laura Kelly in November.

In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, boosting his party’s chances of holding the seat after scandal-hit former Governor Eric Greitens finished well behind.

Tuesday’s elections represented the latest test of Trump’s sway over the Republican electorate, also including key contests in Arizona and Washington state. 

Several Trump-backed candidates have embraced the former president’s falsehoods about voter fraud, raising concerns among some Republicans that they could be too extreme to defeat Democrats on November 8.

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