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Kansas voters reject constitutional amendment granting lawmakers ability to regulate abortion

Residents of Kansas have voted against an amendment to the state’s constitution that would have given lawmakers in the state the ability to regulate abortion, the Associated Press projects.

With Tuesday’s vote, Kansas became the first state in the nation to vote on an abortion-related issue since the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn federal protections for abortion granted under the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade.

The constitutional amendment, backed by a campaign named Value Them Both, would have given elected representatives the ability to pass legislation regulating abortion in Kansas, which was restricted after the state’s Supreme Court previously found the 1859 Kansas Constitution grants a “natural right” to abortion. At the time the AP called the race, voters had rejected the amendment by more than 20 percentage points.

In 2019, the state’s supreme court struck down a ban on surgical abortions in a 6-1 decision, ruling that the state’s constitution protected women’s choice to engage in that activity as a “right.”

OUT-OF-STATE DONORS SPENDING MILLIONS TO PROTECT ABORTION IN KANSAS AHEAD OF STATEWIDE VOTE

The Court ruled that the state constitution incorporated language from the Declaration of Independence that recognized that certain rights predated the country. The Declaration’s “natural, inalienable rights,” the Court said, included “personal autonomy,” which covered decisions about abortion.

“This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy,” the majority opinion read.

Ahead of Tuesday’s outcome, supporters and coalitions in favor of the amendment faced opposition on a local and national level, with out-of-state donors and pro-choice groups spending millions to protect abortion in Kansas.

KANSAS REPUBLICANS PUSH BACK AGAINST VALUE THEM BOTH ‘MISINFORMATION’ AHEAD OF STATEWIDE VOTE ON ABORTION

A Vote No to a Constitutional Amendment on Abortion sign is on display outside a polling station on August 01, 2022 in Olathe, Kansas.

Filed with the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission last month, financial reports from Kansans for Constitutional Freedom (KCF), a group that bills itself as a “bipartisan coalition of reproductive rights advocates and allied organizations,” revealed that about 71% of the $6.54 million in contributions it had received were from out-of-state entities. An estimated 29% of the contributions it received were from residents or groups in Kansas.

Notably, an estimated 22% of contributions received by KCF were from abortion providers or abortion lobbying organizations located both in-state and out-of-state.

Large contributions received by KCF include $1.38 million from Sixteen Thirty Fund, a powerful left wing dark money group, and $850,000 from Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, an advocacy arm for Kansas’ Planned Parenthood Great Plains, also donated more than $490,000.

A supporter of the Vote Yes to a Constitutional Amendment on Abortion holds up a sign along 135th Street on August 01, 2022 in Olathe, Kansas.

In contrast, Value Them Both (VTB), a coalition in direct opposition to KCF that urged Kansans to vote yes on the amendment, filed a report with the commission that showed less than 1% of the $4.66 million it received were from out-of-state donors.

Notably, VTB received at least one contribution totaling more than $1 million from a sole entity. Other significant contributions received by VTB stemmed from religious groups, mostly Catholic organizations in the state. The Archdiocese of Kansas City contributed $2.1 million, while the Catholic Diocese of Wichita gave $300,000.

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