Poll after poll has shown that a majority of Americans support abortion rights. Tuesday’s landslide election in Kansas marks the first time that public opinion has translated to actual votes since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, supercharging the national debate over reproductive rights.
Kansans rejected by nearly 20 points an amendment that would’ve stripped the state constitution’s protection for abortion rights — in a state that then-President Donald Trump carried by 15 points in 2020. The result is a symbolic victory for abortion rights advocates across the nation and tangibly protects abortion access in a state surrounded by more-restrictive laws.
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“I thought it was going to be a really close election,” said Greer Donley, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School and an expert on reproductive rights. “I’m from Kansas and spent three weeks there last month and felt the energy on the ground, but I was worried all that energy was going to be concentrated in a bubble and that it would be overpowered by other parts of the state,” she said.
“Even with a stacked deck, you’re seeing a massive victory,” Donley said. “The funny thing is that this has been played out in polling for a fairly long time, but no one has really believed it. … I think it speaks really loud volumes about what average Americans think.”
Grid took a look at some of the latest data on abortion access in the U.S. and how voters are thinking about the issue nationwide ahead of the midterm elections this fall.
Lay of the land
Several states where abortion is currently legal but not protected by state law could eventually see abortion bans or strict limits, either because the states could start enforcing existing laws, such as Michigan and Montana, or lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation soon, including Nebraska and Pennsylvania.
Pill demand surges
Shifting public opinion
“I’ve been saying this for a while: If we win in Kansas, it would be the blueprint for the abortion rights movement going forward about how to restore access in red states. If you disentangle abortion from party lines and put this in referenda and state constitutional votes, I wouldn’t be surprised if you see abortion restored in states like Texas and Georgia, not to mention more purple states like Michigan where you see people pursuing this strategy already.”
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