United States of america:
Campaign signs dot the tree-lined streets of the affluent Kansas city of Leewood, as the Midwestern state prepares to hold the first major vote on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the national right to the procedure.
Consensus heads for an election on Tuesday to decide whether to change the traditionally conservative state’s constitution to remove language that guarantees abortion rights.
Those in favor of the change – “yes” voters – say it would allow legislators to regulate the process without judicial interference.
“It only restores our ability to negotiate,” says Mackenzie Haddix, a spokesperson for the Value Them Both campaign that sought to end protections—one that stems from a 2019 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court.
“The people of Kansas can come together … to reach a consensus,” he told AFP at a rally on Saturday morning.
Banning abortion is not the official goal of valuing both of them.
But in the opposing camp, activists see the campaign as a barely-masked bid by the Republican-dominated state legislature to clear the way for an outright ban — following in the footsteps of at least eight other US states since the Supreme Court ruling. But walking. june.
Advocates watch with trepidation to neighboring Oklahoma and Missouri, which have implemented near-total restrictions – the latter with no exceptions for rape or incest – while fellow Midwestern state Indiana passed its own harsher ban on Saturday.
And in Kansas itself, a conservative state legislator introduced a bill this year that would ban abortion without exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother, while a state senator was quoted as telling supporters that she would eventually hopes to make a law “life beginning at conception.”
Currently, abortion is legal in Kansas up to 22 weeks, with parental consent required for minors.
“It really comes down to an amendment taking away the right to individual autonomy,” Ashley All, spokeswoman for the Kansas for Constitutional Freedom (KCF) “no” campaign, told AFP.
“And it is a right that we are able to make decisions about our bodies, about our families, about our future, without government interference,” she said.
The vote, which coincides with the primary elections in Kansas, will be the first time for American voters to register their views on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade.
Other states, including California and Kentucky, are set to vote on the issue in November – the same time as congressional midterm elections in which both Republicans and Democrats hope to mobilize their supporters nationwide on the abortion question.
Anne Melia, a volunteer with the pro-abortion rights KCF, goes door-to-door in Leewood on Thursday night.
“I don’t think the government should tell women what they should do,” the 59-year-old explained as he made his way across lawns manicured with rival “Vote No” and “Vote Yes” signs.
Leywood resident Pat Boston, 85, said he has already voted — and marked “no” on his ballot.
In the same neighborhood, 43-year-old Christine Vasquez said she planned to vote “yes” in hopes of seeing a vote on an abortion ban in the future.
“I just see it coming back to the vote of legislators and constituents,” she told AFP. “I will not vote for abortion, I believe life begins with conception.”
‘Kansas is unique’
The result in Kansas could mean a boost or blow to both sides of the highly charged US abortion debate – and the nation’s eyes will be on the state on Tuesday.
Across the United States, Democrats lean strongly in favor of abortion rights while conservatives generally favor at least some restrictions.
But the picture in Kansas reveals a more complex political reality.
The state relies heavily on Republicans, and has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964.
But Kansas’ most populous county elected a Democrat to the US House in 2018 and the state’s governor, Laura Kelly, is a Democrat.
And when it comes to views on abortion, a 2021 survey from Fort Hays State University found that less than 20 percent of Kansas respondents agreed that abortion should be illegal, even in cases of rape or incest.
Half believed that Kansas should impose no restrictions on the circumstances under which a woman could have an abortion.
And so Melia, who quit her environmental consulting job to devote more time to political volunteering, isn’t sure what to expect on Tuesday.
“People want to oversee flyover country,” as the somewhat derisive nickname given to the US Midwest, she said. “I think Kansas is unique.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)