Kansas abortion vote could affect Oklahoma defenders

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Supporters say Kansas voters’ move to preserve abortion rights could rally supporters in Oklahoma. (File photo by Janice Francis-Smith)

Oklahoma’s new abortion ban has undoubtedly informed Kansas voters’ decision to preserve abortion rights in the state – and Oklahomans could look to Kansas as an example of how Abortion rights could be restored to the state sooner, abortion rights advocates said Wednesday.

” Since Dobbs decision fell, people asked what was the way to restore the rights to try to restore the momentum and the power, and Kansas showed that there was a way to do it, ”said Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, during a press conference held online on Wednesday.

“We are committed to the long-term fight to restore care in the four states we serve, and I think people will learn lessons from Kansas and certainly hope,” Wales said.

A surprisingly high turnout at the polls resulted in a landslide decision to protect access to abortion care in Kansas, by a vote of 58.8% to 41.2%. While Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary was expected to bring together 20 to 30 percent of registered voters, about 50 percent of registered voters showed up.

The election results showed that more people voted on the abortion measure – about 908,000 votes cast – than in the Democratic and Republican gubernatorial races combined, a total of 727,000 votes. Additionally, the 374,611 votes cast in favor of stripping state constitutional protections is lower than the number of voters who showed up to vote in the Republican primary — 450,977 voters — indicating the measure did not passed by all Republicans who voted.

The measure was proposed by anti-abortion activists seeking to overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that found the right to abortion is preserved in the state’s constitution. Anti-abortion groups were confident the measure would pass in Kansas, a state Donald Trump won by 15 percentage points in 2020.

“Although the result was not what we hoped for, our movement and campaign proved our resolve and commitment,” read a statement released by anti-abortion group Kansas For Life. “We will not abandon women and babies.”

The opposing sides in Kansas have spent about $14 million on campaigns defending their views on the issue.

In December 2021, Oklahoma City-based public affairs group Amber Integrated conducted a poll of 500 registered voters in Oklahoma and found that only 31% of those polled favored a total ban on internet. abortion. The poll reflected a difference of opinion among Republicans, with 48% supporting a full abortion ban and 40% voting against a full ban.

The abortion issue will be decided in the coming months in a number of other states. In Michigan, more than 750,000 voters have signed a petition to enshrine constitutional protection for abortion in the state constitution. In November, Kentucky voters will vote on a measure declaring that the state constitution does not guarantee the right to abortion.

In Colorado, abortion advocates are trying to collect enough signatures before the August 8 deadline to put abortion on the November ballot.

Oklahoma Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, had proposed legislation in 2019 that would have allowed Oklahoma voters to declare that the state constitution does not protect the right to abortion, but lawmakers have eventually rejected the measure.

Instead, the legislature has passed several measures over the past two years to restrict access, culminating in an abortion-of-conception ban signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt. The only exception provided would be to save the life of the mother.

“That’s what I believe and that’s what the majority of Oklahomans believe,” Stitt said during the signing of the law. “If other states want to pass different laws, that’s their right, but in Oklahoma we will always stand up for life.”

With Tuesday’s vote, Kansas remains the only state in Planned Parenthood Great Plains’ four-state service area that has not enacted additional restrictions and bans on abortion this year. But the five Kansas facilities that offer abortion cannot provide all the care needed in the region, Wales said.

“Kansas chose not to put itself in the same crisis that we have in neighboring states like Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas,” Wales said. But the state still feels a strain on its resources due to restrictions imposed by its neighbors. The organization seeks to restore local access to abortion, noting that many women in the region lack the resources to travel out of state for the procedure.

Kansas’ voter turnout shows the abortion issue is galvanizing voters to go to the polls, Wales said, and that voters can be trusted to discuss the issue thoughtfully and choose the best option.

The question is taken up by the candidates running for the November elections. Kendra Horn, who previously represented Oklahoma’s 5th congressional district, is now campaigning to represent Oklahoma in the US Senate. Horn sent his staff to Kansas to witness Tuesday’s vote.

“Incredible victory for freedom in Kansas tonight!” Horn posted to social media on Tuesday. “I sent my team to Kansas because I know that when people come together against extremism, anything is possible. If we can win in Kansas, we will win in Oklahoma!

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