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Kansas Abortion Amendment 2022, joe biden signs executive order

Abortion rights supporters react as early polls showed that voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have declared there is no right to abortion
Abortion rights supporters react as early polls showed that voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have declared there is no right to abortion
Horse parades and door-to-door campaigning helped people who wanted abortion rights to win in Kansas.

When Jae Gray, an activist for abortion rights, sent people to the Kansas City suburbs to talk to voters about the upcoming referendum, they gave them talking points for all voters, not just liberals.

Gray, a field organiser for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, said, "We definitely used message strategies that would work for people of any party." "We think every Kansan has the right to choose their own health care without the government getting in the way." This is obviously a conservative talking point. We were not just talking to Democrats."

It was worth the work. On Tuesday, voters in Kansas voted against a ballot measure that would have removed protections for abortion from the state's constitution. This could have led to more restrictions on abortion or even a total ban. That victory was made possible by an opposition coalition that got a lot of Republican and independent voters in the state to vote in record numbers.

Many people were shocked when a well-organized anti-abortion movement in a conservative state lost badly. The organisers themselves said they took advantage of voters' anger after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. KSVotes.org, an online service for registering voters, says that in the hours after the decision was made public, the number of people signing up to vote in Kansas went up by a lot.

Nearly 60% of voters voted against the amendment in the end. More than 900,000 people went to the polls, which is almost twice as many as the 473,438 people who voted in the 2018 primary.

Rachel Sweet, the campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, said at a news conference on Wednesday, "Kansas turned out in record numbers because we found common ground among different voting groups and got Kansans of all political stripes to vote no."

Gail Rowland carries signs at the Johnson County Democratic Party headquarters on July 18 to encourage voters to vote "no" on a state constitutional amendment that would make it harder to get an abortion in Kansas.
Gail Rowland carries signs at the Johnson County Democratic Party headquarters on July 18 to encourage voters to vote "no" on a state constitutional amendment that would make it harder to get an abortion in Kansas.

Sweet said that she hopes the campaign's win will give abortion rights groups in other states that will be putting ballot measures on the ballot in the next few months a boost. In California, Vermont, and Michigan, people are being asked if they want to put protections for abortion in their states' constitutions. In Kentucky, people are voting on whether or not to take away protections.

Sweet said that organisers got Republicans and people who didn't belong to either party to vote by working with groups like the Johnson County, Kansas-based Mainstream Coalition. In the 2020 election, this large suburb of Kansas City went blue for the first time in 100 years. A Washington Post analysis shows that about 1 in 5 Republican primary voters supported abortion rights.

"It's a vote on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, and as a society we don't want to go backwards with our laws," said Mandi Hunter, 46, a Republican attorney from Johnson County who voted "no" on the amendment. "People don't want the government to run their lives or make decisions for them."

Hunter said she didn't trust Republican state legislators who said the amendment wouldn't necessarily lead to a total ban, even though some of them had said before that they were ready with legislation in January that would ban the practise completely.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom also reached out to voters in more rural and conservative parts of the state, Sweet said. This week, there was a rally for abortion rights in western Kansas. There were horses, a Dolly Parton playlist, and T-shirts with a pink uterus in a cowboy hat. "Vote Neigh" was the slogan.

The event's organiser, Dodge City resident Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, who is 21 years old, said that the Vote Neigh campaign was made to be a fun way to reach young rural voters. He said that they did well. Voters who said "no" won in the state's big cities and in some smaller rural counties like Saline and Geary, the results showed.

"These victories happen because young people are motivated and sick of seeing the same thing over and over again," he said. "We'll get results when you give us a chance to shape how our campaigns look, let us have fun, and move away from traditional rhetoric."

Stephen McAllister, a law professor at the University of Kansas and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who was appointed by President Donald Trump to be the U.S. attorney for Kansas, said that anti-abortion activism in Kansas got serious during the Summer of Mercy protests in Wichita in 1991. He said that while protesters were lying down in the street, chaining themselves to fences, and getting arrested in front of abortion clinics, the movement was also trying to get Republican candidates elected.

Over the next few years, people who were against abortion won a number of victories in the Kansas state legislature. These included a 24-hour waiting period, a law requiring parents to be told, and limits on late-term abortions.

McAllister said, "That was the start of an interest group that took over the Republican Party in a way that never reflected what most Kansans thought." "Now that Kansas' populism has had a chance to show itself, it's clear that the Republican legislature's single-minded interest has taken over the people's will." There is a difference between what the majority wants and what each party wants."

In 2019, the state Supreme Court ruled that the Kansas Constitution protects the "right to personal autonomy." This means that a woman has the right to make her own decisions about her body, health, family formation, and family life, which can include whether or not to keep a pregnancy. Right now, abortion is legal in Kansas for the first 22 weeks of pregnancy.

At first, Republicans in the state legislature tried to put on the 2020 ballot a change to the constitution that would get rid of these protections. Cassie Woolworth, 57, president of the Johnson County Democratic Women South chapter, says that the people who worked for abortion rights were ready when they finally won last year. Her group started telling voters about the upcoming ballot initiative during last year's election season.

During their primary on August 2, Kansans chose to protect the right to have an abortion. These results could be a sign of what will happen in other states in the midterm elections of 2022.
During their primary on August 2, Kansans chose to protect the right to have an abortion. These results could be a sign of what will happen in other states in the midterm elections of 2022.

During the year-long campaign over the amendment, both sides have accused each other of spreading false information. For example, the "Vote No" Kansans for Constitutional Freedom said on street signs and in messages that the amendment would lead to a total ban on abortion (state legislators would have had to pass a law banning abortion). Value Them "Vote Yes" Both groups said that the 2019 Supreme Court decision threw out the laws they worked to pass (also not technically true, according to McAllister.)

A political action committee led by Tim Huelskamp, a former Republican congressman from Kansas, sent out a false text message that made the race even more heated.

According to reports filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission, both sides spent about the same amount on radio and social media, for a total of $11 million. Planned Parenthood has spent $1.4 million to fight Value Them Both, while the Catholic Church has spent almost $2.5 million to help it.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom also got help from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, which gave them $1.38 million and was their biggest donor. In the past few years, Sixteen Thirty has become a strong centre for causes on the left. The fund was set up as a nonprofit, which means it doesn't have to say who its donors are. In 2020, the last year for which a tax return is available, it spent $410 million all over the country.

Arabella Advisers, a consulting firm that works for profit, is in charge of the fund. The fund says it fights for things like voting rights, equal pay, health care, and gun control. In 2020, it was one of the biggest donors to outside groups whose goal was to get rid of Donald Trump. Its spokesman didn't answer right away when asked for a comment.

Even as supporters of abortion rights popped champagne corks at their victory party on Tuesday, a group called Value Them Both called the result a "temporary setback" in a tweet, showing that the battle was far from over. The group said it was because "radical left organisations spent millions of dollars from out of state to spread lies about the Value Them Both Amendment."

In a statement, the group said, "Our dedicated fight to value women and babies is far from over" and promised, "We will be back."

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