Abortion-rights victory shakes Kansas political landscape from roots to branches

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, right, embraces Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes at an election night watch party Tuesday in Overland Park. (Lily O’Shea Becker)

The failure of the anti-abortion amendment in Kansas on Tuesday was more than a single election result.

It was an earthquake.

That quake rumbled across the U.S. political landscape, surprising onlookers who had expected a tight contest or outright victory for anti-choice forces. All of a sudden, the rough political consensus that had formed since the Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade crumbled.

No one really cares about “social issues” like abortion with inflation soaring and a sour public mood, right? Nope. Kansans ended up valuing their constitutional rights a great deal.

OK then, but a deep-red state like Kansas would surely pass the deceptively named “Value Them Both” amendment, right? Nope. Instead, the amendment was still down by double digits as of 10:30 p.m.

Fine. But surely state Republicans could craft an incomprehensible ballot question, count on millions of dollars of church funding and choose a sleepy primary day in August for the vote. These professionals could stack the deck to get what they wanted, right? Nope. Instead, an unprecedented wave of voters turned out to decisively protect their rights.

Maybe, just maybe, these results show that reproductive rights matter.

Not just to folks in liberal cities on the East Coast. They matter to Kansans, in tiny towns and sparsely populated counties.

If you followed the results as they came in Tuesday evening, you could see amendment support flagging in the most conservative areas. You could see gigantic margins grow in more populous regions. Regardless of where you were, more Kansans than anyone dreamed turned out to defeat the amendment.

You could see the political winds shift almost immediately. U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids put out a press release after the amendment defeat that was striking in its directness.

“This is a win for Kansans, our families, and our rights. We rejected extremism and chose a path forward that protects all Kansans’ ability to make their own choices, without government interference,” it read.

Maybe, just maybe, tackling the issue head on has benefits. Read more