Kansans recently voted overwhelmingly to retain their state constitution’s protection of a right to abortion—a victory for women’s health and equality in the state. The landslide vote took place despite confusing ballot wording, intentionally misleading messaging from abortion opponents and the state’s deep crimson politics. This was the first vote taken on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, and the extent of the victory—an 18 percent spread—surprised abortion opponents and supporters alike. Most observers had projected a close race.
But Kansas’ vote does not mean that the right to abortion is best left to the ballot—a driving justification offered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s radical right majority and an argument that some have suggested this vote validates. Specifically, in the recent Dobbs decision, the majority wrote that “the authority to regulate abortion must be returned to the people and their elected representatives.” In his concurrence, Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed that “the Court’s decision properly leaves the question of abortion for the people and their elected representatives in the democratic process.” Ironically, Kansas’ vote not only protected abortion rights in the state—it also amounted to a democratic rejection of the position that abortion should be left to politics.
The above excerpt was originally published in The Hill.
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