Landslides in Kansas fuel another fight in the abortion rights movement

“Abortion rights supporters now have an opportunity and an obligation to rebuild pro-choice voting coalitions in states where access has been lost or threatened,” Rachel Sweet told Kansans for Constitutional Freedoms, a group that led the fight against the amendment. reporters on Wednesday morning. “Kansans have spoken, and now the rest of the country must listen.”

Jubilee for anti-abortion advocates after Supreme Court overturns Roe The June vote in Kansas was a crushing blow, but they insist it won’t change their strategy.

It’s a long game, and there are more tools in the toolbox than ballot measures, emphasized Kristy Hamrick of Students for Life of America, one of the national groups that has run ads and sent volunteers to canvass Kansas for the amendment.

“It took us 50 years to solve this problem Roe. I think we have time and people on our side to keep fighting,” he said.

Among the most surprising results 59 to 41 win For the No campaign, anti-abortion groups were holding on even in the reddest parts of the state, such as rural counties along the Colorado border, giving progressives hope that their message would spread beyond cities and suburbs this fall. .

“The enthusiasm gap — which usually helps a party out of power — is now closing, and there was no greater example of that than yesterday in Kansas,” said Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic-affiliated Action Fund for American Progress. told reporters on Wednesday. “This could be a signal of what’s to come.”

The victory in Kansas also emboldens progressive organizations like the Fairness Project, a national group that supports ballot measures as a strategy around GOP state legislatures and governors on everything from Medicaid expansion to transgender rights and abortion.

“Ballot initiatives are a phenomenally powerful tool when there is a disconnect between the popularity of an issue and the action of politicians.” And every poll in the country shows a disconnect between abortion rights,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project. “This is really the next frontier, and already advocates are starting to think about 2023 and 2024.”

Although less than half of states allow citizens to collect signatures to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot, Hall said many are “on the front lines of the fight for reproductive freedom,” including Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska. , North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

On Wednesday, before the dust settled from the Kansas vote, progressives were already calling on members of like-minded Facebook groups to help gather signatures to put an abortion rights amendment before Missouri voters in 2023.

“Some places, you might think, are so deep red that no measure to protect abortion will ever succeed,” he said. “But don’t write these countries off. No matter where you live, there is hope on the horizon.”

Kansas contest, the first to give abortion rights directly to voters since then Roe The flip always had the potential to shape a national conversation, and both sides spent millions of dollars on television, radio, mail and digital ads. Hundreds of staff and volunteers flew in from all over the country to knock on hundreds of thousands of doors. Celebrities and musicians with ties to the state have released videos urging their fans to vote.

But it was the abortion-rights messaging that couched the individual rights debate in language familiar to conservatives that resonated with voters and helped ensure the amendment would fail, said Neil Allen, an associate professor of political science at Wichita State University.

The “No” campaign’s rhetoric about government overreach and invasion of privacy has been very successful,” he told POLITICO. “At the same time, the big failure of the Yes side is that they failed to appear credible to voters when they said the amendment would not result in a ban on abortion.” If you read the amendment, it’s not clear what it actually does. But we had A few examples Anti-abortion activists and lawmakers who speak publicly of their desire for a total ban. And that really hurt their side.”

The results were even more striking because the anti-abortion side, which began plotting a ballot initiative in 2019, had several advantages. Members of the House not only chose the amendment’s wording, they scheduled the vote for the August primary election, when turnout is typically lower than in the general election. They also knew there was no competitive Democratic primary and that unaffiliated voters — who outnumber Democrats in the state — cannot vote for candidates in the primary and may not have known they could on Tuesday.

But the move backfired, Allen argued.

“Conservative Republicans in the state legislature really missed an opportunity when they said it should be a primary this year and not a general election in 2020,” he said. “2020 was a pretty good year for Republicans here. Roe v. Wade There would still be room, and voters would not have the example of other states where there was a complete ban on abortion.”

Defying expectations, voter turnout picked up on Tuesday — approaching presidential general election levels in some areas.

Conservative groups that have spent the past few months in Kansas pushing to take the abortion issue to voters lamented the results, blaming “lies that ultimately drowned out the truth” and vowing to redouble their efforts in and around the Sunflower State. country.

For some, that means going to court and focusing on narrower issues like abortion pill access laws.

“We have to prioritize, and I think we will, the chemical abortion lawsuits,” Hamrick said. “It’s a very effective place for us to litigate, especially given that this is the future of abortion. Everyone will have to pick and choose, and we will definitely choose.”

Anti-abortion rights groups are also investing tens of millions in congressional races, hoping to flip the House and Senate and pass national abortion restrictions, even as they continue to campaign at the state and local levels.

Kansas House Speaker Mike Kuckelman insisted that regardless of the referendum result, abortion would not be a deciding factor in November and that Republicans still have a good chance of ousting Democratic incumbents such as Gov. Laura Kelly.

“I don’t see the average person going to the polls thinking about abortion and saying, ‘I have to vote for or against this person on the abortion issue,'” he said. “I think people are going to their polling stations thinking about how they’re not very happy with the state of our economy.”

But anti-abortion advocates like Mallory Carroll with SBA Pro-Life America, Urging state and federal lawmakers not to run away from abortion as a campaign issue.

“The lesson that pro-life candidates should take away is that you have to make a contrast and go on the offensive,” he said. “Republicans can’t just focus on gas prices, inflation, and the economy, even though those are very important issues, because that gives pro-abortion Democrats the space to define our pro-life candidates on that issue, and that’s what can’t happen.”

Landslides in Kansas fuel another fight in the abortion rights movement

Source link Landslides in Kansas fuel another fight in the abortion rights movement

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