Kansas voters will be the first to directly weigh in on abortion with an August 2 amendment.
The amendment would establish no right to abortion under the state constitution.
The amendment could hold major consequences for abortion care in the state and the region.
The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade sends the question of abortion back to the states. The first direct electoral test of abortion rights in the post-Roe era will take place in Kansas.
Direct referendums and amendments on abortion access will be on the ballot in five states this year — and Kansas is up on Tuesday with a constitutional amendment on its primary ballot that would establish no right to abortion under the state constitution.
The measure, Amendment 2, would reverse a 2019 decision by the state Supreme Court establishing a right to abortion in the Kansas Bill of Rights, representing yet another flashpoint in a years-long battle between conservative groups and the state supreme court.
The specific language of the amendment states: "Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion."
The Kansas amendment passing would have immediate and wide-ranging impacts for the future of abortion access in the state and the broader region, which could be compounded by the outcome of November's elections.
Vulnerable Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, elected in 2018, is up for reelection in what could be one of the most competitive governor's races in the country against current Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who reacted approvingly to the Dobbs ruling but has otherwise been vague on what abortion restrictions he would support.
Schmidt running for governor has set up an open race for attorney general, the office that would be tasked with interpreting and enforcing potential future abortion bans.
Kansas borders two states that have already banned abortion with trigger laws, Missouri and Oklahoma, and is emerging as a crucial access point for abortion care in the Midwest.
Even before the Dobbs decision, patients in other states hostile to abortion sought care in Kansas, with the increase in abortions between 2019 and 2020 largely driven by patients coming from Oklahoma and Texas, the Kansas Reflector reported.
The main group behind Amendment 2, Value Them Both, stated after the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs that the amendment would "ensure Kansas does not remain a permanent destination for the most extreme and painful abortion procedures."
Kansas could also pose an early test of the potency of ballot measures to shape abortion policy at the state level, and the continued appetite among voters to directly restrict access to the procedure with their votes.
Voters have voted on 48 ballot measures related to abortion since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, according to Ballotpedia, with the vast majority of those measures put on the ballot by groups that oppose abortion, like in Kansas.
Four other states -- Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and West Virginia -- have also passed constitutional amendments establishing no right to abortion under their constitutions.
Kentucky, which has already banned abortion with a trigger law, will also vote on a similar constitutional amendment in November.
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