Kansans just lately voted overwhelmingly to retain their state structure’s safety of a proper to abortion — a victory for ladies’s well being and equality within the state. The landslide vote happened regardless of complicated poll wording, deliberately deceptive messaging from abortion opponents and the state’s deep crimson politics. This was the primary vote taken on abortion rights for the reason that U.S. Supreme Court docket overturned Roe v. Wade in June, and the extent of the victory — an 18 p.c unfold — shocked abortion opponents and supporters alike. Most observers had projected a detailed race.
However Kansas’ vote doesn’t imply that the proper to abortion is finest left to the poll — a driving justification provided by the U.S. Supreme Court docket’s radical proper majority and an argument that some have urged this vote validates. Particularly, in the current Dobbs resolution, the bulk wrote that “the authority to manage abortion have to be returned to the folks and their elected representatives.” In his concurrence, Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed that “the Court docket’s resolution correctly leaves the query of abortion for the folks and their elected representatives within the democratic course of.” Mockingly, Kansas’ vote not solely protected abortion rights within the state — it additionally amounted to a democratic rejection of the place that abortion needs to be left to politics.
That Kansans unambiguously rejected the poll initiative that may have modified the textual content of their state structure to allow the outlawing of abortion is a victory to rejoice with quite a lot of vital takeaways. (The fitting to abortion was acknowledged by the state’s Supreme Court docket as being enshrined within the state’s structure in 2019.)
At the beginning: celebrators of girls’s equality needn’t completely despair; voters in purple states seem to carry totally different positions on abortion than nearly all of their stridently anti-abortion elected officers. In actual phrases, folks will proceed to have the ability to entry authorized abortion care within the state of Kansas.
Moreover, the vote is a crucial assertion on the place of politics in reproductive care. When Kansans voted on whether or not the proper needs to be taken out of the state’s constitutional ambit — what Dobbs did to the federal structure — an amazing majority, 59 p.c, rejected the concept that their state legislature ought to resolve the destiny of abortion within the state. The final word end result of Kansas’ election is that abortion stays a constitutional proper within the state, and never a political soccer — accurately.
Abortion is just too elementary, too private, too important to particular person liberty to be left to the whims of the general public’s or politicians’ discretion. Because the Dobbs dissent warned, the proper to abortion is “a part of the identical constitutional material” because the rights to same-sex marriage, same-sex intimacy, and contraception — rights that equally shouldn’t be left to facile political discretion.
That is what the folks of Kansas voted in favor of: not solely abortion rights, but in addition constitutional safety of the proper to private autonomy, which the Kansas Supreme Court docket reasoned “permits a girl to make her personal selections relating to her physique, well being, household formation, and household life — selections that may embody whether or not to proceed a being pregnant.”
Together with Kansas, 10 states have acknowledged the proper to abortion below their very own state constitutions. That is immensely vital in our new post-Roe actuality. Though the Supreme Court docket has issued its resolution reversing a half-century of precedent that acknowledged that proper, in time, the courtroom ought to once more acknowledge that abortion can also be embedded within the federal structure and is a elementary federal constitutional proper.
Elyssa Spitzer is a senior coverage analyst for the Ladies’s Initiative on the Middle for American Progress.