Voters in the U.S. state of Kansas have resoundingly upheld abortion rights in the first ballot measure since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 49-year-old national constitutional right to abortion and returned the issue to each of the country’s 50 states.
Polling had suggested that voters in the reliably conservative state might approve giving the legislature the right to overturn the state constitution’s provision guaranteeing that women can decide whether to end their pregnancies up to about 22 weeks of gestation.
Instead, voters flocked to the polls in summertime heat on Tuesday and upheld abortion rights by a 59%-to-41% margin after widespread door-to-door campaigns by both abortion supporters and opponents.
Elsewhere, candidates endorsed by former President Donald Trump generally fared well in Republican primary elections to pick nominees for the November elections against Democratic challengers. The outcome displayed Trump’s continuing hold on his base of supporters as he hints broadly at another run for the presidency in 2024.
Several of the Republican winners adopted Trump’s debunked claims that he was cheated out of another term in the White House during his 2020 run for re-election.
In Arizona, Trump’s choice for a U.S. Senate seat, Blake Masters, won a primary, as did his pick for secretary of state, Mark Finchem, a 2020 election denier who has publicly acknowledged his affiliation with the far-right Oath Keepers militia, a group linked to the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
In vote-counting that is continuing, Trump’s choice for the Republican nominee in Arizona’s gubernatorial race, Kari Lake, has taken a narrow lead over Karrin Taylor Robson, the candidate backed by Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president.
In addition, Rusty Bowers, the Republican speaker of the Arizona House who gained national attention after testifying against Trump at the January 6 congressional investigative hearings, lost his bid for state Senate.
But Trump had mixed results in his continuing effort to defeat fellow Republicans who voted to impeach him on claims that he instigated last year’s riot.
A Trump-backed congressional challenger in Michigan, John Gibbs, defeated Representative Peter Meijer, one of 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Trump before he left office.
But Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse in Washington state, two other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, appeared to survive primary election challenges from Trump-backed candidates to advance to the November balloting.
The abortion vote in Kansas in the rural U.S. heartland could resonate nationally in the November congressional elections, giving Democrats, most of them abortion-rights supporters, a chance to campaign on the issue at a time when they are facing political headwinds, chiefly because of surging consumer prices and the highest inflation rate in four decades.
Many Democratic candidates are intending to claim their Republican opponents, many of whom want to restrict or ban abortion, are out of step with national sentiment, while Republican candidates are seeking to tie Democrats to what they argue is President Joe Biden’s mismanagement of the American economy and overspending by the Democratic-controlled Congress.
Former Democratic Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, who served as the U.S. health secretary under then-President Barack Obama, said after the Kansas vote, “I think it should indicate both in Kansas and nationally that people can be energized around the notion that the Republicans are determined to have government mandates about women’s health care decisions, and that is something that doesn’t sit well with lots of people.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju said in a statement, “Reproductive freedom is a winning issue, now and in November. Anti-choice lawmakers take note: The voters have spoken, and they will turn out at the ballot box to oppose efforts to restrict reproductive freedom.”
More state-by-state abortion votes are expected in coming elections.
But with June’s Supreme Court decision, about half the U.S. states have already imposed or are likely to sanction almost-total abortion bans, while sometimes allowing for exceptions in the case of women being impregnated by rape or incest or concern that they might die if carrying a fetus to term.
Meanwhile, about half the states have codified abortion rights or hope to with passage of November referendums.