The Kansas Vote on Abortion Was the Glimmer of Hope Our Movement Needed
This week, Kansans showed up and showed out—voting down a ballot measure by a double-digit margin that would have amended their state constitution to take away their right to abortion. After what has felt like years of gut-punching losses doled out by extremist politicians, the Trump administration, and the Judiciary system he left behind, this win was an important reminder of the power of our movement and the popularity of the right to abortion.
Kansans showed us that anti-abortion extremist leaders and policymakers in the state do not represent the people, what they want, and the rights they deserve. And it’s not just in Kansas: a majority of people in the United States support the right to abortion. About two-thirds of Americans say they do not support the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. And about 75%-80% of Americans oppose the abortion bans going into effect across the country. Despite what anti-abortion extremists want us to think, abortion is a widely popular and winning issue.
But the popularity of the right to abortion doesn’t mean that this ballot race was an easy fight. On the contrary, the campaign to protect the right to abortion in Kansas was met with an uphill battle—one that they didn’t just win, but conquered. Anti-abortion extremists spread misinformation (including sending last-minute blatantly false anonymous texts to voters), scheduled the vote during a primary instead of a general election in hopes of low turn-out, and had the power of the Catholic Church behind them (and more than four million of their dollars).
The campaign, Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, built a broad and diverse coalition that reflects the future of what our movement looks like. Local grassroots organizers, pro-abortion religious leaders and business owners, abortion providers and doctors, reproductive justice advocates, gender-justice organizers, and other state and national groups worked hard together to ensure Kansans could make their voices heard on abortion. They showed us that abortion is not a partisan issue, but instead an issue deeply based in our values of freedom, autonomy, and equality.
Personally, as someone organizing for abortion access, it’s been hard not to feel deeply defeated at times. The deck is often stacked against us. Not because of abortion itself, but because of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a judiciary system saturated with anti-abortion extremists who don’t respect decades of legal precedent. But this win in Kansas is not just a glimmer of hope, but a reminder that people need us to keep going.
Abortion is on the ballot across the country. First it was Kansas, next is Kentucky, Montana, Michigan, Vermont, California, and Nevada.
If abortion can win in deeply red Kansas, then I believe our movement can build a future where abortion is accessible and available for whoever needs one. Because when the people actually get to use their power and decide what the future of abortion should look like, it is much brighter than what any anti-abortion politician would want us to believe.