On Aug. 2, Kansas citizens will decide whether or not the state’s constitution protects abortion, The Washington Post reports. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, over a dozen states have gone to ban or restrict abortion access. There was confusion over how the ballot question was written because a “yes” vote counts against abortion access and a “no” vote counts for abortion access. If approved, the state will overturn a 2019 decision ensuring abortion rights in the constitution. Abortion is still legal in Kansas and is being used as a sanctuary state by those in nearby states where abortion access is restricted. Statistics from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment showed a 9 percent increase in abortions from 2019 to 2020. This was mainly due to temporary pandemic restrictions in Texas and Oklahoma.
The vote will take place during a primary election, rather than a general election, meaning that pro-choice advocates may struggle to achieve adequate voter turnout. Kansas is a deep red state that has not voted for a Democrat presidential candidate since Lyndon B. Johnson. The ballot passing would not lead to an automatic abortion ban, but what antiabortion advocates deem as “reasonable safeguards.” However, many pro-choice advocates believe that they will eventually use this vote to fully ban abortion in Kansas. Kansas once had the least restrictive abortion laws in the country, prompting the 1991 Summer of Mercy, where thousands of antiabortion activists protested, and many were arrested. In 2019, one of the state’s few third-trimester abortion providers, George Tiller, was murdered by an antiabortion extremist. Stakes are still high for advocates on both sides, many of whom are campaigning for their respective causes.