Updated Aug 2, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Kansas voters reject anti-abortion constitutional amendment

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Kansas voters on Tuesday rejected an amendment that would have gotten rid of abortion protections in the state's constitution, the Associated Press reports.

Why it matters: It's the first time since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade that U.S. voters have cast ballots on abortion.

State of play: The amendment would have added language to the Kansas Constitution that said that "[b]ecause 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."

  • Kansas' constitution guarantees the "equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which the state Supreme Court ruled in 2019 includes the right to abortion, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Our thought bubble: The race was one of the most watched in Tuesday’s primaries for the signals it may send about Republican and suburban women voters around abortion rights in key states in November, Axios managing politics editor Margaret Talev says.

What they're saying: President Biden said in a statement late Tuesday the Kansas vote "makes it clear" that a "majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions."

  • "Congress should listen to the will of the American people and restore the protections of Roe as federal law," Biden said.
  • "While that is the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose, my Administration will continue to take meaningful action to protect women’s access to reproductive health care," he added.

Don't forget: Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and West Virginia are the only four states that have amended their state constitutions to prohibit any protections for abortion rights.

Where abortion is on the ballot

States with <span style="background:#17c3b2; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">certified</span> or <span style="background:#ffcb77; padding:3px 5px;color:white;">pending</span> abortion-related ballot measures
Data: Ballotpedia; Note: Pending refers to states where the ballot measure is pending certification or legislative action; Map: Simran Parwani/Axios

In November, voters in California, Vermont, Kentucky and Montana will get to make decisions related to abortion.

  • A ballot initiative in Vermont would enact a state constitutional amendment declaring "an individual’s right to personal reproductive autonomy."
  • Kentucky voters will vote on a measure that would ensure the state constitution does not "secure or protect a right to abortion, or require the funding of abortion."
  • In California, voters will decide whether to enact an amendment that adds a "fundamental right to choose to have an abortion" to their state constitution.
  • In Montana, residents will decide on a state statute that would require medical care to be provided to "infants born alive" after an abortion by classifying them as a "legal person" with "the right to appropriate and reasonable medical care and treatment."

What we're watching: There are abortion-related measures that have not yet been certified that could potentially be added to the ballots later this year.

  • In Michigan, abortion rights advocates earlier this month submitted over 750,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would create a state constitutional right to "reproductive freedom."
    • If at least 425,059 signatures are verified, the measure will appear on the ballot in the fall.
  • In Colorado, where abortion is protected under state law, a measure that is pending certification would add a state statute that prohibits "intentionally causing the death of a living human being at any time prior to, during, or after birth."

Other states — Michigan, Colorado, New York, Washington, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Nevada and South Dakota — also have abortion-related measures that could appear in state ballots in 2023 or 2024.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from President Biden.

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