Wednesday, August 3, 2022

When No Means Yes

Good for you and all of us, Kansas.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — In a major victory for abortion rights, Kansas voters on Tuesday rejected an effort to strip away their state’s abortion protections, sending a decisive message about the issue’s popularity in the first political test since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

The overwhelming support for abortion rights in a traditionally conservative state bolsters Democrats’ hopes that the historic Supreme Court ruling will animate their voters in an otherwise difficult election year for their party. The Kansas vote signals that abortion is an energizing issue that could affect turnout in the November midterms.

The question presented to voters here was whether abortion protections should be stripped from the state constitution. A “yes” vote would allow Kansas’s Republican-led legislature to pass future limits on abortion — or ban it altogether — in its coming session in January. A “no” vote would leave those protections in place.

With 90 percent of the vote counted, 60 percent of voters wanted to maintain those abortion protections compared with 40 percent who wanted to remove them from the state constitution. Turnout for Tuesday’s primary election far exceeded other contests in recent years, with around 900,000 Kansans voting, according to an Associated Press estimate. That is nearly twice as many as the 473,438 who turned out in the 2018 primary election.

I think this goes far beyond the question of reproductive rights. This is the voters of one of the most conservative states in the union telling the state government that they have had enough of interference in personal decisions about their lives, their bodies, and how to live in a supposedly free society. This has less to do with being liberal or conservative. Liberals have their fair share of nanny-state foibles, but nothing to the degree that the right wing has demonstrated in the last few years. They have proved that conservatives believe in smaller government and more freedom… as long as they agree with it.

One state referendum doesn’t make a trend, but it’s a warning shot that I hope is heard in other places, most specifically Tallahassee.  Ron DeSantis has made his bones, so to speak, by stomping on local government, ruling on high in matters ranging from wearing masks on cruise ships to drag shows in Miami, and not with a small amount of bullying and childish petulance.  His supermajority of Republicans in the statehouse have followed along by enacting everything from limits on reproductive rights to “Don’t Say Gay” in schools.  They very effectively talked out of both sides of a bodily orifice to proclaim parental rights over school curriculum, but swept them away in limiting how a family deals with a much more intense and life-changing question on what happens when a ten-year-old is raped and becomes pregnant.  They cannot seem to decide where the role of the family ends and the state begins, but perhaps the voters can.

And they may soon find out, to coin a phrase, they’re not in Kansas anymore.

One bark on “When No Means Yes

  1. I have to say I’ve been wondering for probably a year now if the predicted red wave was real or just a favorite meme among pundits that actually wasn’t based on much of anything. I’m going more and more with favorite meme.

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