Kansas voters have rejected a pro-life amendment to the state constitution, a blow to the anti-abortion cause following the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court in June.
On Tuesday, 58.8% of voters rejected the "Value Them Both" amendment that would have removed the right to an abortion from the state constitution, while 41.2% supported the proposal. The amendment would have allowed the state legislature to impose stronger restrictions on abortion or possibly ban the procedure.
The amendment had more robust support among rural and less populated counties; for example, Logan County in northwest Kansas supported the measure 69.8% to 30.2%.
However, more densely populated counties like Shawnee County, which has the capital city of Topeka, largely opposed the amendment, with residents voting against it 66% to 34%.
Johnson County, located in Eastern Kansas and presently the most populous county in the state, rejected the pro-life amendment by a vote of 68.4% to 31.6%.
Although the amendment failed, there are still restrictions on abortion in Kansas. The right to an abortion is limited after 22 weeks of gestation. Abortions can occur after 22 weeks in circumstances when a mother's life is in danger or if a “major bodily function” is at risk. Also Kansas requires mothers to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion can be conducted.
According to Kansas Department of Health and Environment, over 7,800 abortions were performed in Kansas in 2021, an increase of 4.1% from 2020. The tally includes both medical and surgical abortions.
Lila Rose, a prominent pro-life activist and founder of Live Action, called the results a “tragic setback for Kansas," She added that it “will do nothing to stop the pro-life movement’s momentum to pass unprecedented legal protections for preborn children across the nation.”
“Our law will not be Justice until it reflects that reality. The media & abortion industry worked overtime for months spreading lies in Kansas, spending millions to influence the vote,” she tweeted.
“As more Americans wake up to the truth & pass pro-life laws, our movement to make abortion both illegal & unthinkable will prevail.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju celebrated the amendment’s failure, saying that “protecting abortion access is galvanizing voters like never before, and that mobilization is only just beginning.”
“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,” stated Timmaraju.
“Thank you to Kansans for Constitutional Freedom for their tireless efforts to defeat this ballot initiative. NARAL was proud to support them in this fight.”
The “Value Them Both” amendment came in response to a 2019 decision from the Kansas Supreme Court which claimed that there was a constitutional right to an abortion.
“Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion,” stated the amendment.
“To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”
Last month, a survey by co/efficient claimed that the pro-life amendment had support from a plurality of Kansan voters, with 47% of likely voters saying they supported it while 43% said they opposed. The remaining 10% was undecided.