Uplifting reproductive rights news isn’t exactly the mainstream these days, but on Tuesday Kansans voted against a ballot measure that would have allowed state lawmakers to say abortion was not a constitutional right within the state. The move came as a surprise—and a giant sigh of relief for onlookers— in an overwhelmingly red state.
The amendment—known as the Value Them Both Amendment—was defeated 59 to 41 percent, according to the Kansas Primary Election Results site. More than 900,000 Kansans showed up to vote on the measure.
“It’s official: We BLOCKED the dangerous anti-abortion constitutional amendment!,” Kansans for Constitutional Freedom wrote on Twitter. “This is truly a historic day for Kansas and for America. Freedom has prevailed. The constitutional rights of Kansas women have been protected. Thank you to everyone who took part in this movement.”
While Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected the amendment, it wasn’t initially clear that would be the case. In May the New York Times published a poll that showed victory would be narrow with an estimated 48 percent noting abortion should be “mostly legal,” and 47 percent deeming it “mostly illegal.”
So when news of the vote broke, the celebration was real. Activists and reproductive rights organizations alike took to Twitter to express their excitement over the victory.
On Aug. 2, the ACLU tweeted: “BREAKING: Kansas voters just defeated a ballot measure that would’ve given politicians in Kansas unlimited authority to restrict access to abortion care in the state. People in Kansas came to the polls and made it clear: Abortion is a right that we will fight for.”
In the comments, the organization added: “This victory comes even after anti-abortion lawmakers strategically included the amendment on the summer primary ballot, which draws much lower attention and voter awareness than general elections.”
Planned Parenthood Great Plains similarly weighed in, noting that “last night was historic.”
“Planned Parenthood Great Plains has served Kansas for decades and today, we woke up and did just that – but with the reassurance that people in Kansas will continue to make medical decisions that are best for their health, their lives, and their futures.”
And what does this mean for reproductive rights moving forward?
According to CNN, the unexpected Kansas results point at a few key factors, including a turnout that mirrored presidential elections and a bipartisan message.
“We found common ground among diverse voting blocs and mobilized people across the political spectrum to vote no,” Rachel Sweet, campaign manager with Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, told CNN.
And while the vote is important (we repeat, it’s important), it’s also crucial to consider that the fight does not end (or begin) at the ballot box, according to SheKnow’s Katherine Speller, who reported on how to support reproductive rights in June.
“If you have the ability to take action on that level (particularly somewhere where your voice can support the voiceless?) in addition to the more grassroots, community-driven work, it’s a simple way to take care of your own on top of some of these more immediate actions,” Speller wrote.
So the message is clear, people — get out there and vote, and engage with organizations on a community level. And while you’re at it, make sure you bring everyone along with you, too.
Before you go, check out real celebrity stories that show abortion is vital healthcare:
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