The state of Kansas will become the first state to put abortion on the ballot next week when Kansans go to the polls on August 2 in the country’s first post-Roe reproductive rights vote.
Abortion advocates are worried that the vote, while expected to be close, may be set up in favor of pro-life proponents. Republican lawmakers pushed for the vote to be part of the primary election instead of the November midterms, which likely means fewer voters will go to the polls.
They also worded the ballot question in what residents are saying is a confusing way. A “no” vote means the voter supports abortion rights and access, and a “yes” vote signals the voter does not support abortion rights.
“When they say on the TV say yes or say no it’s confusing to me,” said 56-year-old Wichita voter Rotonda Johnson to The Washington Post. “I had to ask, which way for yes and which way for no? Either way, I don’t think the government should stop abortion.”
A University of Kansas political science professor, Patrick Miller, told NPR the presence of abortion rights activists in the area was negligible prior to the overturning of Roe. “Not trying to be mean, but I think the public campaign of abortion rights supporters was pathetic to nonexistent until around the time that the leak happened at the Supreme Court,” Miller said.
Kansas Republicans have mostly kept quiet on what they plan to do if the ballot measure passes and abortion is not supported by the voters. Some lawmakers say the silence on future plans is simply because Republicans are waiting to see the results of the vote.
“You don’t want to get out over your skis and and, you know, say something and then it doesn’t even come to pass,” said Kansas House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita) to ABC News.
The Kansas vote will be a figurative litmus test for how much the SCOTUS decision to strike down Roe will spur voters to the polls, not just in general and midterm elections, but also primaries.
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