Kansas voters overwhelmingly reject an anti-abortion amendment
August 2, 2022 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Kansas voters defeat anti-abortion amendment in unexpected landslide

On August 2, Kansas voters, by a margin of 59 to 41, voted to preserve abortion rights in the state. This is the first direct vote on abortion rights since the Supreme Court decision.

WaPo: Kansans resoundingly reject amendment aimed at restricting abortion rights (Paywall-free link)

The anti-abortion amendment was placed on the August 2 primary ballot by the Republican-majority state legislature as a way of ensuring its passage. Thanks to the usually lower turnout for primaries. And thanks to a usually higher participation by Republicans and to usually zero participation by those registered independent. But turnout was large. Currently at 858,152 voters. A substantial increase over the usual primary turnout. 630,000 turned out for the primary in 2020. For some precincts in Johnson County (suburbs of Kansas City), the turnout was higher than the 2020 general election.

Previously, in 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled abortion was protected by the Kansas State Constitution. Because of this protection, an amendment was required before the very conservative legislature could pass a full ban.

The amendment was purposefully written to be confusing. Many voters were unsure what the amendment would actually accomplish. The pro-life side gathered under the coalition of "Value Them Both". With many churches providing heavy support for the amendment.

But pro-choice coalitions were also formed. These groups managed to inform enough of the voters. The simple message of "Vote NO" took hold. The coalitions also were successful in informing independent voters that they could still show up and vote for the amendment in the otherwise closed primary.

By the end of the campaign, the Value Them Both coalition panicked. A dishonest text message was sent out to registered Democrats and Unaffiliated voters. Claiming a vote of "Yes" would protect choice in the state.

But in the end, the misinformation and lies didn't make a substantial impact. A conservative state, which voted for Trump 56-41, overwhelmingly voted for choice. In practically every county, "Yes" votes underperformed Trump votes by 25 points or more. Most rural counties ended up with close margins. The suburban and urban counties had massive pro-choice majorities. Unofficial county results can be found here.

What remains to be seen is how this vote will affect the existing fights and elections nationwide. This massive voter rejection of abortion bans from a red state will have an impact. For now, choice is safe in Kansas. With Kansas surrounded by states with either bans or heavy restrictions, this also keeps abortion available to people in Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Arkansas, and Texas. This vote was especially important to Missouri. The Kansas City Metro spans both states. Missouri has a total ban, but Kansas City will still have access to choice. Thanks to the clinics on the Kansas side of the Metro. This is a wonderful win for the state, the region, and, I hope, for the country as a whole.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary (136 comments total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
SUCH great news.
posted by potrzebie at 11:08 PM on August 2 [23 favorites]


Yay Kansas.
posted by maxwelton at 11:22 PM on August 2 [8 favorites]


Good for Kansas.
posted by BoscosMom at 11:33 PM on August 2 [3 favorites]


A dishonest text message was sent out to registered Democrats and Unaffiliated voters. Claiming a vote of "Yes" would protect choice in the state

I keep thinking I can't be shocked anymore and yet.

Still, this is great news overall. Yay!
posted by Literaryhero at 11:34 PM on August 2 [23 favorites]


“You’ve no power here! Begone, before someone drops a house on you too!”
posted by chavenet at 11:36 PM on August 2 [61 favorites]


I just want to paste the text of the thing here because it's remarkably indecipherable for such a simple statement:

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.
posted by chrchr at 11:49 PM on August 2 [10 favorites]


The no campaign ran some pretty interesting ads trying to take advantage of the confusing nature of the amendment.
posted by thechameleon at 11:53 PM on August 2 [10 favorites]


This is my state. Today, I'm proud to claim it. I had been hopeful for this vote going as it did. There were a lot of "Yes" signs, but I saw at least equal numbers of "No" signs. Even my fairly apolitical father put a "No" sign in his front yard.

I'm certain that this is a direct result of the Dobbs decision. If Roe v. Wade were still the law of the land, the urgency of the Kansas vote would have been missing. With Roe sacrificed by a packed court, people here -- Democrats, Republicans, church-going folk and otherwise -- saw how crucial it was to keep bodily autonomy alive and well in the state constitution.
posted by bryon at 11:54 PM on August 2 [41 favorites]


Polling had this as a close race, with "Yes" ahead by a few points. They missed this groundswell because they were modeling likely voters. But there was a surge of irregular voters opposing it, with some 20% of the night's electorate coming out for this issue specifically, and exit polls showed a big Dem advantage amongst voters who registered post-Dobbs. If this same backlash manifests in November, Republicans may lose not just the Senate but possibly the House as well.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:57 PM on August 2 [56 favorites]


So to give you some context: Kansas has an amendment already affirming women's right to choose. Kansas GOP decided to ramrod this into a primary election and do so by creating a misleading question on the ballot where you'd have to choose "No" keep abortion free. Kansas obviously is very conservative so the primary election is a given for the Democratic nominee but the bench is deep for Republicans. It really should have been a shoe-in as Democrats simply don't show up for primaries as there's no need to. So the GOP snuck in a confusing ballot question in a primary election with traditionally very, very low turnout. I think they were expecting ~20% turnout for this in a normal election cycle and they instead got ~50% turnout. For comparison for the general election they got around 60% voter turnout. That's huge, and as soon as I heard about 40 minute waits to vote early in the afternoon I knew that this wouldn't pass as a large voter turnout was a GOP nightmare. And it wasn't even close.

Furthermore try not to look at the map counties that vote yes/no, as Kansas is incredibly rural. A lot of those counties had 1000 votes total. The only county that mattered was really Johnson County, which had more votes for "No" than pretty much all the other votes for either side in the state combined. This is the White Plains of Kansas for lack of a better analogy. White collar, affluent, well educated and staunchly Republican. However, this issue split the Republican vote and this county might be Republican but they're George HW Republican and not so much Trump Republican. When pressed, they're going to go moderate and could easily flip to Democrats, I believe they barely went for Biden in the last election.

In any case, I was worried this would not pass due to the overwhelming abundance of "Vote Yes" signs in yards. I would say easily it was 10:1. The area is religious, albeit Catholic not far right Christian, and it was well organized. We were being warned by local media that even a close loss would be a "win" for us given how conservative the state was. That wasn't the case, there was a huge "silent majority" that came out and won in a landslide. Even in the conservative counties the vote was barely split 50/50.

Kansas has a history of being a bit odd when it comes to politics. We infamously bucked the pro-slavery movement with John Brown, and have since the beginning supported a woman's right to choose. But for it to be such a definitive win should give conservatives pause they've gone too far. It is something that people are willing to go against their party, and while people might not be comfortable supporting pro-choice in the same way they'd support most political platforms when it comes to the ballot box they're going to go with what they think is right.
posted by geoff. at 11:59 PM on August 2 [96 favorites]


I can't emphasize that if you were in Johnson County (which again, voted nearly 70/30 for "no" in a landslide), you would have thought based on yard signs, local media, fake text messages, that at best it would be a close loss. Politics generally aren't talked about here, bars and restaurants will openly have Fox News on if they have news on, etc. Again it isn't rural conservative, it is more like going to a country club. But even the reddest of the red counties still saw up to 30% voting "no" so even in the most conservative counties in the most conservative state saw a significant contingent wanting to protect women's rights.

It is also a huge win for the area as we're the only state in the area who not only has late-term abortions but already 50% of abortions performed in Kansas are from out of state.
posted by geoff. at 12:07 AM on August 3 [38 favorites]


So we’ll be hearing claims of election fraud within the next few hours I expect.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:17 AM on August 3 [20 favorites]


Furthermore try not to look at the map counties that vote yes/no, as Kansas is incredibly rural.

The reason I mentioned the small counties is because there wasn't really any landslides for "Yes" anywhere in the state. Normally, the red rural counties vote Republican in local landslide numbers. They may have only a few thousand voters per county, but all those counties add up and cancel out the Democratic majorities found in the urban and suburban counties.

For example, my very rural county went for Trump by 70-30. For the amendment, "Yes" won my county but with a margin of 54-46. You can see that pattern across the state. There were even some rural counties where "NO" eked out a close win. That lack of padding gave Johnson, Douglas, Shawnee, and other populated counties their moment to dominate the conversation.

It's worth mentioning that Johnson County is one of the bright spots in the state for Democratic politics & politicians. It is the country club suburbs in some ways. But it's also gone blue since 2018 when the county elected a Democrat (Sharice Davids) to Congress, and also was a major part of getting Laura Kelly, our Democratic governor, elected. In 2020, they re-elected Davids and went for Biden 53-44. I don't know if I'd call them solid blue. A moderate Republican might have some success there. But there's hope they'll stay on their current blue course.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:24 AM on August 3 [27 favorites]


it's remarkably indecipherable for such a simple statement:

The rest of the text seems to clarify the intent, to nullify those parts of government that are in the way of anti-abortionists passing the laws they want.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:26 AM on August 3


it's remarkably indecipherable

You are very correct. I know some smart people who are strongly pro-choice, and keep up with news & politics here. They already knew the "Vote NO" mantra. But then they read the amendment and contacted me. Asking if maybe "Yes" was the vote that would preserve choice. The amendment wording almost bamboozled them.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:34 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


It is also a huge win for the area as we're the only state in the area who not only has late-term abortions but already 50% of abortions performed in Kansas are from out of state.

I mentioned it in my post, but just wanted to say it again because this means a lot to me. This is just huge for the region. It is especially huge for Kansas City. For the people of the KC Metro, this essentially nullifies Missouri's attempt to ban abortion. For those on the Missouri side, the state line is not very far away. Countless city streets cross the border. Even if Missouri wanted to set up checkpoints, it would be impossible.

I've seen a few people send thanks to Kansas. Here's one example from a woman in Arkansas who was thrilled about the vote. Makes tonight's victory so much sweeter.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 12:41 AM on August 3 [33 favorites]


Definitely some intentionally confusing wording in the proposed text, but I gotta say ...

does not create or secure a right to abortion

...hits quite a bit different in a now-post-Roe America. They maybe could have used softer wording to make it seem even more "oh hey we're just saying maybe laws can be made in the future for abortion stuff, but our constitution doesn't specify it one way or another!" but they still had to make some strong wording in there so the anti-choice folks were properly dog-whistled (or, like, a stronger whistle than a PE coach on an outdoor field but not the indoor basketball PE coach whistle)

Golly, I'm glad Kansas did the right thing here and I sincerely hope this becomes a really terrible choice for Republicans in an election year that bites them so hard in the ass that they lose their ass.

Also : here's some potentially crucial and uplifting notes from an expert.
posted by revmitcz at 12:47 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


The only county that mattered was really Johnson County, which had more votes for "No" than pretty much all the other votes for either side in the state combined.

Johnson County has like a quarter of the entire state's population. And it's basically an endless sea of suburbs -- even the post office can't tell where one city ends and the next begins. Which, yes, leans republican but still votes to raise taxes for public schools and voted for a Democrat governor (or at least voted against Kris Kobach).
posted by pwnguin at 12:56 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]


But for it to be such a definitive win should give conservatives pause they've gone too far.

Yes! The most frustrating part of the last five years or so (actually going back to Bush Jr’s election - and yes I’m old enough that I regularly think 2000 was about five years ago) is how a minority has “won” elections. It’s patently un-democratic.

This is terrifically heartening.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:41 AM on August 3 [23 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, I'll be reading all the comments from those who are closer to the action with great interest.
posted by mumimor at 2:14 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Everythin's up to date in Topeka....
posted by brujita at 3:12 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Folks in Kansas: was the memory of George Tiller invoked in any of the "vote no" ads or discussion?
posted by brainwane at 3:29 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


I don't want to discount the importance of this, particularly as this was an overwhelming rejection of abortion restriction in a very conservative state. (Hey GOP, how do you like them states' rights now?) And I think the Democratic party could use some lessons in savvy political ads from the "Just Vote NO" group -- the whole "no govt interference" is clearly a "know thine audience" strategy, and it worked. I mean, this ad features two old white men.

But it's also frankly obscene that we're at a point where we're praising Kansans for affirming that pregnant people are people too.

Again, yay Kansas, but ... surely we can do better.
posted by basalganglia at 3:43 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


Wonderful news to wake up to. I hope we see this kind of energy in November too.
posted by obfuscation at 4:04 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


While I'm really jazzed about the outcome in Kansas, this is probably going to not matter long term - the anti-democratic push is going to take a lot to be defeated. I really hope that this is the start of a wave that successfully pushes back the conservative extremists, but election totals won't matter if the votes aren't counted...

For example, the Arizona Republicans chose a domestic terrorist Oath Keeper and election denier to oversee future elections as their candidate.
posted by rambling wanderlust at 4:07 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Good on Kansas!

Here in Indiana, the republican-supermajority legislature has been meeting in a rare special session specifically to pass an anti-abortion law. The Senate finally passed it’s version last week. It actually has some minimal and very restricted carve-outs for rape, incest, health of the mother.

The House, though, is even more conservative than the very conservative Senate, and its version of the bill is a straight-up ban, with no exceptions (well, I think there’s one very restrictive, rarely-gonna-happen, exception for the health of the mother.) It hasn’t been passed yet. Once it does, the two bills will have to be reconciled, which could be contentious.

The fly in the conservatives’ ointment, though, is that the special session has a hard, fast time limit. The session ends on, I think, August 13, and the bills have to be reconciled and passed by both chambers by that day. Though unlikely (these fucks will probably meet 24/7 to restrict women’s rights) there’s an outside chance that the deadline will come without a final bill passed, and Indiana will still have legal abortion, however restricted.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:08 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


But for it to be such a definitive win should give conservatives pause they've gone too far. It is something that people are willing to go against their party, and while people might not be comfortable supporting pro-choice in the same way they'd support most political platforms when it comes to the ballot box they're going to go with what they think is right.

geoff., thank you for providing so much great context.

i'm curious -- do we know how much of this was Republicans voting against the party vs. non-Republicans showing up in higher than usual turnout numbers?

My personal biases mean that I have a hard time believing the former, so I want to check that bias a bit here, if there's data on it. I think this question will continue to be relevant in many elections.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:49 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


i'm curious -- do we know how much of this was Republicans voting against the party vs. non-Republicans showing up in higher than usual turnout numbers?

No but if since the turnout was so exceptionally high (greater than the 2008 primary presidential election!) you can make a yardstick comparison. Biden won Johnson County by 8.2% and "No" passed by 36.8%. That's a staggering amount of people who didn't like Biden but wanted to keep abortion rights.

More stark is in the more rural states. I picked Linn County at random which is extremely rural and two counties south of Johnson County. Definitely not affluent, educated, etc. We're talking oil and farm fields dominating the landscape. They voted for pro-life "Yes" at +18% but for voted for Trump overwhelming +63%. So in deep, deep Republican strongholds the split is even more apparent.

There's a city in the middle of nowhere called St Mary's which is part of the deep fundamentalist Catholic sect St. Pius X. I've never been but I have friends who have family from there and it is always a treat to hear their Thanksgiving/Christmas horror stories. They're in Pottawatomie County which was +47 for Trump and +13 for "Yes" ... so even in a weird Catholic cult town (go ahead read the Wikipedia article), it did not overwhelming vote against it. Here's an Atlantic article about how conservative St. Mary's county is.
posted by geoff. at 5:14 AM on August 3 [23 favorites]


To explain how a Catholic stronghold so conservative it warranted its own Atlantic article actually voted more pro-choice than a random KS county, if probably in a statistically insignificant way, I know a few people that went to Notre Dame or other colleges that ended up in St. Mary's. If I had to make a random guess I'd say they're a lot more wealthy and educated with a lot of people probably being dragged with their spouse or there through circumstance since the Catholic church does generate a lot of income from all the stuff they do there. St. Mary's itself is probably an interesting Metafilter post.
posted by geoff. at 5:21 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


@brianschatz (D senator from HI): "I am begging pollsters and strategists to understand that passion is on the pro choice side, and that one of the jobs of your candidate is to make abortion an issue, and not just read a poll, see choice polling second or third, and talk like a robot about whatever polls first."
posted by gwint at 5:46 AM on August 3 [20 favorites]


70 percent of new voter registrations in Kansas since Dobbs was (formally) released were women.
posted by Etrigan at 5:48 AM on August 3 [58 favorites]


But it's also frankly obscene that we're at a point where we're praising Kansans for affirming that pregnant people are people too.

Maybe you should let people be briefly happy that a bad thing didn’t happen.
posted by Etrigan at 5:53 AM on August 3 [94 favorites]


This is such great news; it made my night when it became clear the results were going this way.

I did some Postcards for Voters for this campaign. PfV is always insistent that you stick to their approved messages, but my instructions for this campaign came with an extra warning about not rewording or changing anything. Very strict "trust Kansas women," "keep personal health decisions private," "vote no on August 2." Some optional messaging about how you can vote on this even if you're a registered independent.

I stuck to the approved script, of course, even though my personal advocacy leans more "yay abortion!" And clearly Kansans for Constitutional Freedom and affiliated groups choose well in their messaging. Yay Kansas!
posted by the primroses were over at 5:57 AM on August 3 [14 favorites]


Can anyone find a population-adjusted map for the Kansas vote?
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 5:59 AM on August 3


Again, yay Kansas, but ... surely we can do better.

I'm honestly not sure that we can - but I'll happily take the problematic and often exasperating moral mediocrity that reigned in my younger years over outright fascism, which seems to the hard-wired American A/B.
posted by ryanshepard at 6:00 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]




To explain how a Catholic stronghold so conservative...

My pet theory is that it was easy to be pro-life when Roe seemed eternal. And it's now much more difficult. Many didn't really want to lose abortion as a safety net. And some minds were changed at the last minute as they see how terrible bans are in other states. Privacy of the voting booth would be quite seductive towards voting against this possible fate at home.

There's also probably people who were always pro-choice, but pretended to be otherwise because of their job, church, or social circles.

Either way, that would explain partially how the vote ended being close in conservative towns & counties where pro-life support was theoretically very high and the number of Democrats & Independents were very low.

I can't prove the theory though, and it might be unprovable. This sort of person wouldn't really show up in polling. They'd lie to the pollster about how they're solidly pro-life.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:10 AM on August 3 [25 favorites]


This is definitely encouraging, but I have to wonder if this was at least partly an own goal by the forced birthers. Given the obfuscation in the wording, did a significant number of abortion opponents vote “no” by mistake? Especially given that abortion support correlates somewhat with education?
posted by TedW at 6:16 AM on August 3


Maybe you should let people be briefly happy that a bad thing didn’t happen.

And it's not just abortion rights, either. Per Erin Reed:
I absolutely love that Kansas has beaten back ALL anti-transgender bills this year as well as their anti-abortion ballot measure. There is a reason I put Kansas as actually safer from anti-trans legislation than Missouri on my legislative risk map.

Kansas kind of rocks lately.
I think we would all be wise to remember a big chunk of "What's the Matter With Kansas" was about Thomas Frank's investigation into how his home state used to have rock-solid progressive bonafides, but somehow became a bastion of ultraconservative politics.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 6:20 AM on August 3 [32 favorites]


To explain how a Catholic stronghold so conservative...

By the way, if you're a liberal Catholic who sometimes puts a little money in the donation basket, you should be aware that of the $1.2 million raised by the Value Them Both Coalition in 2021, $760,000 -- almost 2/3 -- was donated by the Archdiocese of Kansas City and the Diocese of Wichita. [Source 1, Source 2] The KC Archdiocese website still has a banner front and center, right at the top of the page, urging people to vote Yes. The numbers for 2022 are still unknown.

This kind of thing would usually be prohibited under US law, except this time it was a ballot measure rather than a candidate.

I say all this as a former Catholic who wants Catholics to be very, very clear on exactly what this organization does the moment the IRS gives them six inches of leash to run out.
posted by cubeb at 6:34 AM on August 3 [39 favorites]


This was great news to see this morning and hopefully indicative of how future voting might go as well. Those ads are great, calling the proposal a "government mandate" and speaking across party boundaries.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:39 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Folks in Kansas: was the memory of George Tiller invoked in any of the "vote no" ads or discussion?

Not that I saw, but the church where he was assassinated is a polling place.
posted by god hates math at 6:52 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Having grown up in Johnson County…

Good job Kansas!

Don’t get to say that very often
posted by Windopaene at 7:00 AM on August 3


The sad news out of Kansas today isn't that the state or the country "hasn't done enough" on the abortion issue, but that Kris Kobach is the Republican primary pick for state attorney general.

https://mobile.twitter.com/electproject/status/1554690696879214592?s=21&t=ALI3Swihq2YDDZtKwBAXMQ

Kris Kobach co-chaired Trump's failed Election Integrity commission and was once ordered by a court to take remedial law classes because he didn't understand proper court proceedures...
posted by subdee at 7:04 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Nice to not be ashamed of my state for something. Tom Bonier's https://twitter.com/tbonier tweets:

"Among Kansans who registered to vote on or after June 24th (when the Dobbs decision was announced), Democrats have an 8 pt advantage. Compare that to the GOP's overall advantage of 19 pts among all registered voters in Kansas. The landscape changed on June 24th.
Oh, and perhaps more impressive (and problematic for the GOP): 70% of Kansans who registered to vote after the Dobbs decision was handed down on June 24th are women."

This bodes well. But of course Kobach also won his atty gnl primary and the crumbum legislature will probably lurch on to further dreck.
posted by Lookinguppy at 7:04 AM on August 3


Really happy about the pro-choice win today though, especially by such a big margin and with so many signs in yards going the opposite way and (according to my friend from Kansas) people outside the polling place pleading with voters to save babies RIGHT NEXT TO the signs saying no electioneering beyond this point.
posted by subdee at 7:07 AM on August 3


Kris Kobach co-chaired Trump's failed Election Integrity commission and was once ordered by a court to take remedial law classes because he didn't understand proper court procedures...

But wouldn't that make a really good target for his Democratic opponent? Does he have an opponent?
posted by mumimor at 7:08 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I did some Postcards for Voters for this campaign. PfV is always insistent that you stick to their approved messages, but my instructions for this campaign came with an extra warning about not rewording or changing anything. Very strict "trust Kansas women," "keep personal health decisions private," "vote no on August 2." Some optional messaging about how you can vote on this even if you're a registered independent.

That's some very specific/ targeted language in those first two- I'd love to read more about how pro-life messaging is decided.
posted by Braeburn at 7:11 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The sad news out of Kansas today isn't that the state or the country "hasn't done enough" on the abortion issue, but that Kris Kobach is the Republican primary pick for state attorney general.

Kobach has generally been seen as the weakest Republican possibility in the general - his negatives are super-high, and he's already lost a statewide race (Governor, against Laura Kelly in 2018). I had a quick phone conversation with Chris Mann, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General, and my memory is that he thinks his best chance is against Kobach.

Basically, Kobach is a clown, Kansans know that he's a clown, and don't like to vote for him.
posted by god hates math at 7:13 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


1) Huzzah.
2) As one of those vote-fascists who believes that every citizen has a responsibility to vote, and should be compelled to do so*:

I am begging pollsters and strategists to understand that passion is on the pro choice side, and that one of the jobs of your candidate is to make abortion an issue

...this is, I dunno, short-sighted/dumb/appalling/'weak-sauce'/IDK. Depressing at the very least.



* Yes I paid a fine once for doing it wrong for a local council election, and I'M OK WITH THAT.

posted by pompomtom at 7:20 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


This is definitely encouraging, but I have to wonder if this was at least partly an own goal by the forced birthers. Given the obfuscation in the wording, did a significant number of abortion opponents vote “no” by mistake? Especially given that abortion support correlates somewhat with education?

Given the consistency of forced birth messaging and the fact that the pro-amendment side felt they should send deceptive text messages to trick voters into supporting them, I doubt it.

It's an own goal in the larger sense, though, in that the obviously partisan, poorly reasoned decision that took away a Constitutional right is motivating pro-choice voters.
posted by Gelatin at 7:22 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


Rights should not be determined by who has the most motivating advertising campaign.
posted by pompomtom at 7:22 AM on August 3 [6 favorites]


Kansas voters defeat anti-abortion amendment in unexpected landslide.

Eagerly await the NYT article explaining how this is bad news for Biden.
posted by The Bellman at 7:36 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


Re Kobach: Is Kansas a state where primary voters can vote in any party, no matter their claimed affiliation? If so, I wouldn't put it past Dems to vote in the Republican primary to put the weakest Republican candidate over the top.

(Source: me, Wisconsin works like this, so there are not-uncommonly discussions among lefties about whether/when to vote in Republican primaries to knock out stronger and/or awfuller candidates.)
posted by humbug at 7:40 AM on August 3


I have to wonder if this was at least partly an own goal by the forced birthers. Given the obfuscation in the wording, did a significant number of abortion opponents vote “no” by mistake?

Don't know and don't care, personally.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:41 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Given the obfuscation in the wording, did a significant number of abortion opponents vote “no” by mistake?

Who gives a shit?
posted by pompomtom at 7:48 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Re Kobach: Is Kansas a state where primary voters can vote in any party, no matter their claimed affiliation? If so, I wouldn't put it past Dems to vote in the Republican primary to put the weakest Republican candidate over the top.

You have to vote for the party you are affiliated with, if you're unaffliliated you can choose the party on the ballot itself. The Democrat candidate ran unopposed, though I've heard nothing about voting for the weakest GOP candidate, that's pretty far fetched. Kobach won in every county except Johnson County and has really good name recognition in the state. He's running on a pretty ridiculous anti-Biden campaign where he plans to just sue him as AG. The Dems are running a pretty strong ex-cop candidate that are running on the platform that crime, not politics, should be the state AG's job. That said, it really will come down to the turnout on election day. Ironically the best thing that could happen is Trump running again and rallying the moderate Republicans like this abortion ballot measure did.
posted by geoff. at 8:03 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


The only reason to care would be if confusion over the wording meant that its defeat wasn't the landslide it appears to be.

But the Republicans scheduled the vote during the primary, when Republican turnout was expected to be much higher. It stands to reason that the Republicans and their affiliated churches were consistent in messaging their own voters as to their preferred outcome.

What makes this vote an own goal is that it motivated a lot of Democrats to show up. If that trend continues, Republicans are in for some disappointments come November, and in 2024.
posted by Gelatin at 8:05 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


In other good news from Kansas (and a follow-up to one of my past posts), Representative and abuser Aaron Coleman got trounced in his sophomore election, losing to nurse Dr. Melissa Oropeza and community activist Faith Rivera, coming in a distant third.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:10 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


The Grauniad

The “No” campaign – which was protecting abortion rights – was strongly ahead in the referendum with 62% of the vote with the majority of ballots counted. That means millions of dollars lost for the Catholic church who contributed more than $3m trying to eradicate abortion rights in Kansas, according to campaign finance records.

How? Pay tax or stay out of politics. How are they having this both ways? Where's that IRS reporting form...
posted by adept256 at 8:11 AM on August 3 [12 favorites]


though I've heard nothing about voting for the weakest GOP candidate, that's pretty far fetched.

Oh, I know several very progressive people who are registered as Republicans in order to vote for the absolute worst candidate. I don't see it as particularly effective, but it does happen.
posted by god hates math at 8:14 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


If memory serves me correctly, churches are allowed to advocate for issues (For example, the Catholic Church might also advocate against the death penalty), but not in favor or against specific politicians or parties.

There's currently a push to remove the tax exempt status from conservative antigay organization Focus on the Family, with its critics pointing out that not only does it engage in all kinds of political advocacy, but also that it doesn't credibly pretend to be the church it claims to be.
posted by Gelatin at 8:14 AM on August 3


Dems need push that abortion is on the ballot in November with the passion of a thousand Jon Stewarts. A future where Manchin and Sinema are irrelevant is actually looking possible now!
posted by adept256 at 8:15 AM on August 3 [11 favorites]


That's some very specific/ targeted language in those first two- I'd love to read more about how pro-life messaging is decided.

Here's an email Planned Parenthood Great Plains (they serve Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas) sent me this morning:

Dear box,

The voices of Kansans rang out loudly yesterday in an unprecedented show of support to protect abortion as a constitutional right! Since the devastating fall of Roe earlier this summer, all eyes have been on Kansas to set the stage for how Americans can show up for reproductive rights. Yesterday, Kansans said boldly and without hesitation “NO, do not remove rights from our state constitution. Politicians have no place in our medical decisions or personal lives!”

Planned Parenthood Great Plains has made the fight to protect the rights of our patients our top priority during this incredibly difficult time. Now that those rights are secured in Kansas, we need your help to ensure we have the resources to support as many patients as we can, no matter where they call home.

The strong message from Kansas this week confirms that it will continue to be a critical access point for reproductive health care! With your support, PPGP will be here for those who need care during this dark time for abortion rights across the Midwest.

Celebrate this monumental victory by making a donation to patient care across PPGP’s four states!

The impact of this win in Kansas will be felt deeply across our region and the nation. Help us maintain high-quality expert care for all our patients—no matter their home state.

Thank you for standing with us, and for standing up for choice.

Sincerely,
Emily Wales, President & CEO
Planned Parenthood Great Plains
posted by box at 8:16 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]


Given the obfuscation in the wording, did a significant number of abortion opponents vote “no” by mistake?

I wouldn't generalize from just one example, but my mother would likely vote the way her pastor told her to without making the effort to understand what the text says.
posted by Slothrup at 8:17 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


> How? Pay tax or stay out of politics. How are they having this both ways? Where's that IRS reporting form...

If memory serves me correctly, churches are allowed to advocate for issues (For example, the Catholic Church might also advocate against the death penalty), but not in favor or against specific politicians or parties.


I'd still do the IRS reporting form anyway, let them be the ones to jump through hoops justifying themselves to the IRS. Even if they ultimately win, every minute they spend responding to IRS auditors is a minute they're not spending campaigning against reproductive freedom.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:23 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Can we please, at least on MetaFilter, stop letting Republicans claim the term "pro-life", when they have demonstrated again and again and again (voting against healthcare access, against education, against SNAP, against emergency measures to improve access to infant formula, against equal pay, and so on and so on and so on) that they are definitely not "pro-life" in any way, but should properly be described as "pro-forced birth" or "anti-women"?

I have family in Kansas and I'm thrilled that Kansans pulled through and voted to affirm women and choice, but it just makes my blood boil every time I see "pro-life", as if there is something positive to be claimed in actively hating women.
posted by xedrik at 8:31 AM on August 3 [45 favorites]


I'd still do the IRS reporting form anyway, let them be the ones to jump through hoops justifying themselves to the IRS. Even if they ultimately win, every minute they spend responding to IRS auditors is a minute they're not spending campaigning against reproductive freedom.

We should also urge Democrats to restore the funding Republicans have removed from IRS enforcement, and urge the so-called "liberal media" to ignore bad-faith conservative claims of "overreach" like those during the Obama administration that looked into Tea Party groups doing illegal political advocacy.
posted by Gelatin at 8:59 AM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Braeburn I strongly suspect the messaging on abortion rights is chosen more by kneejerk "intuition" than any scientific polling or focus group testing.

And, TBH, I'm not at all sure focus group testing is really all that useful. That tends to produce milquetoast floppy language pap that the focus groups theoretically approve of but in fact vote against.

As with the decision to pick Biden as candidate, the decision to so very carefully avoid ever saying "abortion" is one that seems motivated more by fear than by any assessment of political utility.

I suspect the Democrats will see this as a victory for the idea that they can basically trick people into voting for abortion rights if they never say abortion.
posted by sotonohito at 9:13 AM on August 3


In giving the anti-abortion crowd a sweeping victory at the Supreme Court, Republicans now have to contend with the fact that most people support abortion rights at some level. When Roe was the law of the land, voting for an anti-abortion Republican didn’t matter because people assumed the court would reign them in. For those voters others issues like immigration, taxes, limited government, deregulation, were much more significant. They assumed that their individual freedoms were basically safe. The Republicans used their anti-abortion positions to peel off traditionally democratic voters like the group of Catholics for whom this is the most important issue. Even though for those voters they agreed with Democratic candidates on other issues.

So the optimal strategy for Republicans was to maintain a balanced court and put in people like O’Conner, Souter, etc who could he relied on to be the Lucy pulling away the football of a complete overturning of Roe. A kind of Charlie Brown and Lucy football situation.
posted by interogative mood at 9:17 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I suspect the Democrats will see this as a victory for the idea that they can basically trick people into voting for abortion rights if they never say abortion.

I don't doubt that the people of Kansas knew exactly what the stakes were and exactly what they were voting for, so it's hard to fathom how this overwhelmingly successful preservation of abortion rights was the result of a "trick," or that not mentioning abortion specifically is somehow supposed to be ineffective.
posted by Gelatin at 9:22 AM on August 3 [13 favorites]


Personally, I have always equated “pro-life” with support for the death penalty, oxymoronic politics in a way. And I too, have always winced whenever that term was used to label people’s opinion. We need better labeling, effective labeling that actually characterizes the point of view. Anti-women, anti-choice, anti-health, there has to be a better label out there.
posted by njohnson23 at 9:23 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I accidentally attended a "Pro-Life" rally about a decade ago. It was called a Bicycling for Life rally and I stupidly thought that meant "life" as in bicycling is healthy.
My young son took off on his bicycle to the front of the pack and I spent an hour trying to catch up with him while everyone around me was yelling abortion is murder.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:31 AM on August 3 [15 favorites]




When I voted yesterday I just assumed I was wasting my time. But by 8 pm I started to realize that this state might not be as stupid as I assumed.
posted by drstrangelove at 9:49 AM on August 3 [14 favorites]


I did some Postcards for Voters for this campaign.

Thanks, primroses were over! If anybody else wants to join up, here's some info on their FB page and here's their website. You can write a few as 5 cards for any campaign you like and dip in and out of volunteering as you like. They sell postcards you can use or you can get/make your own. If anybody is in Nashville and interested, I used to do postcard parties (pre-pandemic) and hope to start up again soon, once we can do it outside and it's not 100F.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:53 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Oh, I know several very progressive people who are registered as Republicans in order to vote for the absolute worst candidate. I don't see it as particularly effective, but it does happen.

I briefly registered as a Republican with the idea that I could vote for the most moderate candidate in the primaries to drag the party back from fascist hell. (And then just vote Democratic in the general.) But I didn't find it especially effective. And it made me want to throw up in my mouth, so I switched back.
posted by Naberius at 10:00 AM on August 3 [13 favorites]


Oh, I know several very progressive people who are registered as Republicans in order to vote for the absolute worst candidate. I don't see it as particularly effective...

Especially given that's exactly the candidate republicans want to elect anyway.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:11 AM on August 3 [8 favorites]


This is fantastic news!

I really hope this is a harbinger of more people turning out to vote for pro-choice candidates, but we need to also be ready to assume that the main lesson Republicans will learn from this is never let the issue come up for a vote again.
posted by Mchelly at 10:12 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


but we need to also be ready to assume that the main lesson Republicans will learn from this is never let the issue come up for a vote again

Given the decades-long Republican efforts at gerrymandering and vote suppression, it's safe to assume Republicans know full well their agenda is not broadly popular.

That's a message the Democrats could repeat, loudly and often.
posted by Gelatin at 10:21 AM on August 3 [13 favorites]


I strongly suspect that like a lot of things where American poll strongly in favor of liberal/leftist POLICY but then vote for conservative/right POLITICIANS we shouldn't read this as a sign that the Democrats will sweep in November. Or even get much of a boost.

Voting on the issue, separate from any partisanship and any Republican vs Democrat on a ballot is one thing. Getting people who think Democrats are literal child eating demons who want to destroy America to vote for Democrats, or even just stay home, is another.

There's a lot of Republican voters out there who would be happy to vote for decent things as long as that's separate from voting for Republicans, who they will cheerfully vote for knowing they will prevent the decent things from happening. That seems really damn weird to me, but its a well established pattern.
posted by sotonohito at 10:35 AM on August 3 [4 favorites]


While Kobach might have made it, in the SOS race Mike Brown was firmly defeated, so there’s at least one clown off the ballot.
posted by q*ben at 10:52 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Voting on the issue, separate from any partisanship and any Republican vs Democrat on a ballot is one thing. Getting people who think Democrats are literal child eating demons who want to destroy America to vote for Democrats, or even just stay home, is another.

The forced birth crowd calls abortion the literal murder of a baby. There isn't a dime's worth of difference in conservative rhetoric here, and they lost anyway.

There's a lot of Republican voters out there who would be happy to vote for decent things as long as that's separate from voting for Republicans

Much of the victory margin came from Democratic voters who turned out to vote in a primary election they normally would have skipped. I read that 70% of new voter registrations since Dobbs were women.

Democrats winning elections isn't about convincing Republicans to vote for them. It's about turning out their own voters. And polls suggest that a partisan SCOTUS taking away their Constitutional rights infuriated voters and may motivate them to turn out in a midterm election, skipping which is also a well-established pattern among Democratic voters (to their cost).

Kansas has a Democratic governor. Georgia has two Democratic senators. Democrats can win in Republican-leaning states because there are more of us than there are of them, and Republicans darn well know it, because they have given up on persuasion and are going all in on vote suppression.

This election was a victory for equality (which Democrats should stress the way Republicans harp on "freedom") and bodily autonomy, and it happened not because of a "trick" but because voters recognized and rejected the extreme Republican position. That's a trend that can only benefit Democrats and harm Republicans, whether you like it or not.
posted by Gelatin at 10:58 AM on August 3 [21 favorites]


I apologize for not reading the thread above and reiterating anything but my first impulse was just joy. I haven't felt that in a long time. But because the game is a long game I know this is a temporary victory and they will start chipping away via smaller measures, or find legal routes around.

So we have a long war ahead but I'm so so pleasantly joyed at the victory we just had.
posted by symbioid at 11:04 AM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Teegeeack AV Club Secretary: "For example, my very rural county went for Trump by 70-30. For the amendment, "Yes" won my county but with a margin of 54-46. You can see that pattern across the state. There were even some rural counties where "NO" eked out a close win."

I am really curious how these results are playing in all those small-town counties. It's easy to dismiss something like Laura Kelly's win being the work of those liberal city slickers over in KC, but when a majority of lily-white Greenwood County (population: 6,016) votes to protect abortion after backing Trump 80-20 and Kobach 60-30 the reality of folks like themselves with differing opinions can't be ignored.

For once I'd actually like to see a NYTimes diner piece from here.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:06 AM on August 3 [15 favorites]


"So we’ll be hearing claims of election fraud within the next few hours I expect."

Exactly what I was going to write.
posted by bz at 11:11 AM on August 3 [1 favorite]


I guess it’s not just “activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party” who care.
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Begone, before somebody drops a house on you too!
posted by elphaba at 11:53 AM on August 3 [2 favorites]


I suspect the Democrats will see this as a victory for the idea that they can basically trick people into voting for abortion rights if they never say abortion.

Or the pro choice folks kicked the shit out of the forced-birth jagoffs.

I'm nearly always pro sonohito comments, but I think the pessimism on this is a bit misplaced
posted by WatTylerJr at 11:55 AM on August 3 [7 favorites]


I guess it’s not just “activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party” who care.

For those that don't know, this sniveling turd of a statement was part of the White House's response to practically the entire pro-choice movement asking (and rightfully so) what the fuck they and the rest of Dem leadership had been doing for the last 18 months, since it sure as hell wasn't working to protect abortion rights.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 12:15 PM on August 3 [17 favorites]


It sure seems like it would help, but democrats have often offered popular policies only for people to vote against them. Look at the history of Obamacare. The cannabis reform movement has been a good example of how surprisingly hard it is to get politicians to do popular things.

I am looking forward to anti-abortion jihadists breaking faith with the GOP when they blink at enacting the very unpopular embryo-absolutist policies (ban all abortion, IVF, EC, IUD) that they they have promised for 30 years.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:35 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


Look at the history of Obamacare.

Yes, let's! Republicans lied about it constantly, the so-called "liberal media" amplified those lies, Democratic messaging was typically inept, and hey presto, it was unpopular. (The botched rollout of the Web site didn't help, either.)

Polls showed that people would approve of the things Obamacare did but disapprove of the term "Obamacare," because Republicans are good at demonizing terms without clearly explaining why they're bad (hey, it's easier!) And for a few years some Democratic politicians got spooked and ran away from their own policy.

But the policy became law anyway, even if a lot of Democrats who voted for it lost their Congressional seats, and like many other Democratic policies, it provided tangible benefits to the American people that they liked.

(Which Bill Kristol, in his infamous memo about Bill Clinton's health care proposals, predicted would happen, signaling lockstep Republican opposition from then on.)

So when the Republicans tried to repeal it, they failed. And failed again. When they claimed they could replace it with something better, they couldn't. And thanks to the Democrats, more people have health insurance now. And voters are clear they want the ACA to stay -- Democrats are even talking about improving the law (which should be easy, except of course Republicans obstruct whenever they can).

Now Republicans have, at long last, achieved one of their closely held policy goals, and most people hate it. And it stands to reason that voters might punish those responsible for the forced birth policies that people dislike, but are being implemented across the country, and are inextricably branded with the Republican Party.
posted by Gelatin at 12:48 PM on August 3 [10 favorites]


this sniveling turd of a statement

Jesus. Apt description. I missed that at the time and had to google the phrase. How fucking dare they. I’m a lifelong democrat but JFC they sure do keep making me wonder why
posted by ook at 1:06 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Democrats winning elections isn't about convincing Republicans to vote for them. It's about turning out their own voters.

Democrats are also playing with fire to try to win elections, helping extremist Republicans like Michigan's John Gibbs and Maryland's Dan Cox get to their state's respective general elections.

This gambit has been called internally the "Pied Piper" strategy, and it did not work out so well in the 2016 general election:

A 2015 memo written by Hillary Clinton's campaign staff urged the DNC to "elevate" extreme "Pied Piper" candidates in the Republican primaries, specifically Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and eventual winner Donald Trump. Democrats, the memo read, should work to position those candidates as "leaders of the pack" and "tell the press to [take] them seriously." This strategy would ideally "[f]orce all Republican candidates" to adopt "extreme conservative positions" and prevent the eventual GOP nominee from making "inroads to our coalition or independents."

We all know how that turned out.


Which is not to relitigate the past, but to point out the severity of the consequences of these choices, where abortion is now illegal in thirteen states in the year 2022, and people who can become pregnant have been left to hold their hopes and prayers on Kansas to hold back the rising tide of Republican fascism.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:56 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


There was a weird primary in WA-3 yesterday, the district next door to mine in the next state over. I kind of paid attention to it because I see the candidate ads here when I watch "Jeopardy!". WA-3 is Vancouver, WA and the surrounding area. It's mostly exurbs. It's within commuting distance of Portland and people who like Washington's lower personal tax rate often threaten to move there. Trump won it 51 to 47 in 2020.

The incumbent is Jaime Herrera Beutler. She sucks, but she did vote to impeach Trump after January 6. Naturally, she is being primaried from the right by a Trump endorsed candidate named Joe Kent. Kent is a former Green Beret. His wife was killed by a suicide bomber in Syria. His campaign slogan is "America First". He endorses the entire slate of "Stop the Steal" conspiracy positions.

It's a top two primary system where the top two vote getters advance to the general regardless of party. Herrera Butler won 56% of the general election vote in 2020 and analysts thought there was a good chance Herrera Butler and Kent would nab the two slots in the general.

And then a few weeks ago, "JOE KENT IS CIA" started trending on Twitter. The far right, supposedly led by Nick Fuentes for some reason turned on Kent and started posting wild conspiracies about him being a Deep State marxist plant. The accounts spreading this on twitter have various kinds of white nationalist symbology.

Then, another little-known super PAC donated $724k to another Republican candidate named Vicki Kraft. The race overall had over $4 million showered on it.

The votes are still being counted and the smoke hasn't totally cleared, but with 57% of votes counted a picture is emerging. The Democrat Marie Perez leads Herrera Butler 32% to 25%. Kent is out of the money with 20%. In fourth is so-called "home schooling activist" Heidi St. John. In fifth with almost three quarter of a million dollars and 3% of the vote is Klein.

So, after all that, it looks like Herrera Butler will face off against a Democrat in the general and probably win another term. Herrera Butler, by the way, is anti-choice but, like, willing to allow abortions here and there as a treat, so she's what the political class calls a moderate. This race looks super strange to me with various unexplained things happening behind the scenes, but I'm sure stuff like this is happening all over the country.

[source]
posted by chrchr at 2:09 PM on August 3 [11 favorites]


That article says Heidi St John is the candidate that got the 724k, and speculates that the turn against Kent was the result of a personal grudge of Nick Fuentes' because he wouldn't accept help his political help. But yeah weird stuff going on.
posted by subdee at 2:38 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


You're right. Thank you for the correction. Heidi St. John got a $724k donation and so far has about 15% of the vote. Kraft (who I also misnamed as "Klein") is just another Republican and has 3%.
posted by chrchr at 2:52 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that the Republicans didn't think they could win with a clearly worded anti-abortion amendment, so they went with obfuscation. This might mean something.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 3:00 PM on August 3 [14 favorites]


The amendment was deliberately confusing. As I mentioned above, it almost bamboozled some pro-choice friends of mine.

What's funny now is how the conservatives are coping. They're blaming the amendment's wording as the reason why it lost. Claiming a more strongly and clearly worded ban would have succeeded. Which is just absolutely delusional. They're compounding the delusions by claiming this landslide proves Kansas is a strongly anti-abortion state.

Have no idea how they arrived at this conclusion. Maybe the day drinking started early for many of them.

But it does show that we're in for some rough times ahead in Kansas. The local extremists don't feel the slightest bit humbled by the results. If the Republicans can keep their veto-proof majorities in the Legislature, I expect more and harsher amendments to appear on the ballot in the near future.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:38 PM on August 3 [13 favorites]


The only reason to care would be if confusion over the wording meant that its defeat wasn't the landslide it appears to be.

But the Republicans scheduled the vote during the primary, when Republican turnout was expected to be much higher. It stands to reason that the Republicans and their affiliated churches were consistent in messaging their own voters as to their preferred outcome.


The confusing wording and scheduling this during a primary are de facto admissions by the Republicans that their policies are unpopular. If they were as morally upright as they pretend to be, they'd make a clearly-worded amendment and put it up in the general election.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:21 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Democrats are also playing with fire to try to win elections, helping extremist Republicans like Michigan's John Gibbs and Maryland's Dan Cox get to their state's respective general elections.

Ugh, this is so short-sighted and I hate it so much. Meijer is right to call it unpatriotic. As long as we have free elections (to the extent that we still do), the pendulum will always swing and the other guys will always win some of the time. Not that the Republicans need any help purging people with a conscience from their ranks, but Democrats actively working to make the other party worse are working to make the country worse.

(That's kind of a tangent, though. Yay Kansas!)
posted by aws17576 at 4:28 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


The full quote referred to above by White House Communications director Kate Bedingfield was as follows in response to an inquiry over why they had not taken some of the immediate steps that some activists were pushing for and criticism of their more deliberative and consultative approach,
“Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party. It’s to deliver help to women who are in danger and assemble a broad-based coalition to defend a woman’s right to choose now, just as he assembled such a coalition to win during the 2020 campaign,”
Biden governs by consensus and with consultation of stakeholders. This is frustrating for those who want to start blasting and hope it works out; but it can also be more successful. Some wanted Biden to immediately make Indian reservations available for people to get abortions — this is worth considering; but not without considering the impact to native Americans and the Indian Health Service or in ignoring their underserved health care needs.

This whole narrative that Biden doesn’t care about abortion rights is a bunch of malarkey. Good work takes time. I see no reason to start trashing Biden for not magically fixing a huge disaster created by the Supreme Court in a matter of days, even with a two month head start by the court tipping its hand.
posted by interogative mood at 4:32 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


Good job to the activists and other people of Kansas on not sitting around and waiting for that imperceptible movement to occur.
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on August 3 [18 favorites]


My feeling about Biden and taking time to do consensus work is that he should have been doing that since the Alito draft on Dobbs came out. I know Harris has been leading on conferring with stakeholders for a while now but that hasn't been publicized enough.

re: the wording of the amendment, I live in Texas, we have constitutional amendment elections every biennium, and they're all confusing. I think the obfuscation in Texas is legaleses but also part of the way the state makes it less appealing/more work to vote.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 4:54 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


This whole narrative that Biden doesn’t care about abortion rights is a bunch of malarkey.

LOL. Biden was going to appoint an anti-choice judge to a lifetime position on the federal court the same week as the Dobbs decision was handed down, which was only stopped because Rand fucking Paul, of all people, denied him the blue slip. This was, of course a deal he made with the same "Republican friends" he mentioned in the same breath as abortion rights.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:11 PM on August 3 [11 favorites]


Does it really matter what Biden thinks about abortion or what his preferred style of governance is? We're currently seeing his administration grievously mishandle monkey pox and I don't think that anyone would seriously argue Biden wants gay men to suffer.

The team of people around him just isnt competent enough to defend abortion the way grass roots groups have in Kansas.
posted by zymil at 5:17 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


Also, here's a letter 24 Senate Democrats sent Biden several weeks before the decision came down, outlining preparations and responses that apparently took the White House days or even weeks to even consider, let alone shoot down.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:18 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


By the way, if anyone wants to read more about Biden's pick for the federal judiciary, the Louisville Courier Journal has you covered. Some highlights:
As chief deputy general counsel, [Chad] Meredith defended a 2017 Kentucky abortion law requiring doctors who perform abortions to first perform an ultrasound and describe the image to the patient.

He lost at a trial in federal court but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later upheld the statute.

In 2018, Meredith also successfully defended the commonwealth's "right-to-work" law before the Kentucky Supreme Court, as labor unions challenged whether the law violated the constitution.

Meredith also represented Bevin in a lawsuit where Planned Parenthood argued the administration violated state law by refusing to issue its clinic a license to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood got their license in early 2020 after Bevin was voted out of office and the Beshear administration dropped the lawsuit.

As Cameron's solicitor general, Meredith also successfully defended a state law in the Kentucky Supreme Court that stripped Gov. Beshear of his emergency power to implement COVID-19 restrictions.

The previous year, Meredith was unsuccessful in the attorney general office's legal challenge to Beshear's emergency orders responding to the pandemic. The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the governor had the power to enact those orders.
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 5:35 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


Biden was willing to trade one federal judgeship out of the 121 he has appointed so far in order to get the rest of his appointments to a number of federal offices confirmed. That was a pretty good deal. While it is a a lifetime appointment most district court judges serve much shorter times as case loads are very high and they can make a lot more money in the private sector as former Federal Judges. A district court judge isn’t the one making the big final sweeping rulings on anything significant; those cases end up before the Appellate and eventually Supreme Court. There has been a long tradition in the US of district court judges being put forward by and approved by local Senators, even when the Senators were from the other party. In fact there had been a Senate rule in the past that required the President to select these judges form a list compiled by the State’s Senators and simply rejected other nominations.
posted by interogative mood at 5:42 PM on August 3 [8 favorites]


Looks like Democrats (and Kentucky Democrats in particular) think that's, well, a bunch of malarkey:

Biden Drops Plan to Name Anti-Abortion Lawyer Backed by McConnell as Judge
But Democrats had made it clear they were displeased with the potential nomination of Mr. Meredith, wondering aloud why Mr. Biden would have agreed to name a person who opposed abortion rights, and what he might have extracted from Republicans in return.

“I said, what’s in it for us?” Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Illinois Democrat who is the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters this week, describing how he pressed the White House on the Kentucky court seat nomination. “They haven’t given me a specific answer.”

Mr. McConnell said that he had made no pledge to the White House to do anything in return for Mr. Biden accepting his recommendation, an appeal he made through Ron Klain, the chief of staff.

“There was no deal,” said Mr. McConnell, adding that Mr. Biden’s consideration represented the kind of “collegiality” and once routine cooperation on home-state judges that has diminished in recent years. “This was a personal friendship gesture.”

Democrats had sharply questioned why Mr. Biden would put forward a nominee backed by Mr. McConnell, considering that the Republican leader blocked Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick in 2016 and has been a main impediment to the president’s agenda.
Biden urged to rescind GOP judge pick as McConnell camp calls deal talk 'false information'
Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday it's past time for the White House to withdraw the name of anti-abortion Republican Chad Meredith as a potential nominee for federal judge in Kentucky.

"It's been plenty of time," Beshear said at his press conference. "And by now, they should be telling us that it's going to be rescinded."

But the next morning the U.S. Supreme Court released its decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the federal constitutional right to abortion and Meredith's nomination was not announced or submitted.

Beshear and U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Louisville, were among the Democrats astonished and outraged by the pick
[. . .]
In addition to Meredith's record working to restrict abortion access as deputy counsel under former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, critics have pointed to the attorney's participation in that administration's controversial clemency orders issued at the end of the governor's term in 2019, spurring public outrage and a federal investigation.

Bevin administration documents showed Meredith was one of the governor's general counsel staff to give recommendations on whether certain applicants deserve clemency.

Beshear, who said last week that a Meredith nomination would be "indefensible," renewed those same criticisms related to the pardons and commutations Thursday.

"The fact that this individual assisted former Gov. Bevin with the worst misuse or abuse of gubernatorial power — certainly in my lifetime — should be disqualifying," Beshear said. "And this is the deputy general counsel who worked on pardons that allow rapists and murderers to walk free."
posted by Glegrinof the Pig-Man at 6:02 PM on August 3 [7 favorites]


How did I know that the usual suspects would show up here and turn this into a pile-on about Biden and "well, but" and remind us that this all actually sucks and that we shouldn't get too hopeful about anything? JFC.
posted by sundrop at 6:28 PM on August 3 [25 favorites]


Polling had this as a close race

Has anyone seen any other poll aside from that one - the widely quoted July 20th poll* - that showed the amendment winning 47-43? I've nosed around and that seems like the only poll anyone released publicly, which seems surprising. I'd love to have another data point before drawing conclusions about how and/or why polling was off on this issue.

* "shared exclusively with FiveThirtyEight"!
posted by mediareport at 7:11 PM on August 3


Lol. No, if you’re not a believe that Biden and the dem higher ups are capable or willing to do anything this is actually great news, as something was done without them.
posted by Artw at 7:33 PM on August 3 [6 favorites]


There was one poll that was correct. It was from a year or two ago. Measuring Kansas's support for choice. Poll stated 56% of Kansas wanted abortion legal in some way. Which is a number close to the voting results.

That poll gave me considerable optimism that we'd win. Though I thought the final result would be less than 56%, not more.

The July 20th poll had interesting internals that should have been a warning sign to anyone paying attention. The 18 to 34 demographic was 75% in favor of NO. 35 to 44 was 52% NO. 45 and up were YES, but only barely. 50% to 52% depending on the age bracket. I didn't see a gender breakdown, but wouldn't surprised if NO was ahead with women in most ages.

I suspect Value Them Both had a more accurate internal poll. I don't think they would have taken the chance with that blatant lie of a text message unless they had a reason to panic. The text message created quite a backlash. All the local media covered it. All the pro-choice people & groups blanketed social media with criticisms and rebuttals.

Wouldn't be surprised if the text message did fool a few people though. The misleading language of the amendment probably fooled a few too. This leads to one interesting conclusion about the vote: the 59% might be the floor for Kansas support for choice. Not the ceiling. The actual percentage might be a few points higher if the fooled voters are taken into account.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:56 PM on August 3 [3 favorites]


Yeah the text message was a real desperate attempt that assumed people voting were uninformed, or easily manipulated. The problem was Republican's shot themselves in the foot. Had this been a general presidential election it might have worked. The problem is that they chose a primary which brought out young and motivated voters, who check social media and local news and are just going to be feel more empowered by deceptive tactics.

Don't get me wrong I think there would have been a backlash in a general too but I think you would have also had a contingent of voters going to vote for a president and not paying as close attention. But! It wasn't even a close race, these underhanded tactics might swing a close race but not this one.
posted by geoff. at 8:09 PM on August 3 [1 favorite]


The one big question I have about polling on reproductive rights is the "shy voter" factor. In previous election polling, there's always a risk of "shy voters" who refuse to tell a pollster their real position. Usually because the shy voter doesn't want to admit to being racist or reveal they're supporting an embarrassing candidate like Trump.

I just keep thinking that comes into play here too. That even if a formerly pro-life voter has developed doubts about their anti-choice position, it's still so core to their identity and social circle that they can't admit they've changed. Can't even admit it to a stranger.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:10 PM on August 3 [4 favorites]


There is a similar constitutional amendment going through the process here in Iowa. Seeing the Kansas referendum get beaten back so decisively is very gratifying but it also worries me.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned, there are almost no lengths the anti-abortion movement won’t go to in order to pRoTeCt ThE iNnOcEnT bAbIeS. Elect a pussy-grabbing authoritarian so they can stack the courts? Check. Lie to women in crisis? Check. Physically intimidate and harass people entering abortion clinics? Check. Create laws to make abortion virtually unattainable? Check. Murder doctors? Check.

These wingnuts are following a call from God. They have built a movement where they are incapable of being the bad guys and the laws of man don’t apply.

The only reason the Kansas legislature put this to a vote by the people is because they had convinced themselves that it would never fail in God-fearing Kansas. With the legitimacy of a direct vote, pregnancy would mean indentured servitude in Kansas. If they hadn’t been high on their own supply, they would have known from the start that this amendment was a risky bet.

I don’t think other red states will make the same mistake by “letting the people” decide.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:29 PM on August 3 [5 favorites]


The only reason the Kansas legislature put this to a vote by the people is because they had convinced themselves that it would never fail in God-fearing Kansas.

Correct me if I'm wrong, this did not make abortions illegal it just removed the constitutional protections in place by the Kansas constitution affirming abortion rights. See the policy makers know they can't push through broad anti-abortion laws if it is put out to vote, but they can get it passed by a conservative legislature.

This is all the GOP's/Catholic/conservative's fault. As someone who went to Catholic school in Johnson County I can attest they did not frame abortion realistically at all, it was all in extremes. First, they made middle schoolers attend so-called sex ed talks which were just excuses to indoctrinate us. I clearly remember one woman break down saying that because her "friend" didn't wait until marriage before she had sex she had to tell her husband on their wedding night she had herpes like it was fucking Philadelphia. But I digress, the pro-life part was vivid on how over the top it was. Again at the time these were not issues I was aware of or had any idea of the nuances involved but they said people would often get abortions so it wouldn't interfere with their vacation to Cancun, or wait until the last minute ("Right before the delivery room!") to have a late term abortion.

They didn't mention that the vast majority of late term abortions were due to extenuating circumstances like finding out severe genetic defects in the fetus, most women don't carry around a baby for 8 months like a Netflix account they forgot to cancel. But this is the same sort of talk that included telling us that DNR was the same as euthanasia and the first time you see a 90 year old with late-stage cancer brain dead kept alive by machines you're like well if this is euthanasia, please bring it on.

Frankly conservatives and Catholics in Kansas brought up a whole generation of kids into extremist ideology thinking we wouldn't ever enter the real world and chickens are now coming home to roost. You have very valid questions on the nature of life and ethics at play that are certainly not new and frankly if they asked to think why does it become life 8 weeks after birth and not 8 weeks before I probably would have ended up with a much more conservative view on this on my own. Now I know if you give them an inch you give them a mile.
posted by geoff. at 9:45 PM on August 3 [9 favorites]


Well done, Kansas. :)
posted by Pouteria at 10:18 PM on August 3 [2 favorites]


The only reason the Kansas legislature put this to a vote by the people is because they had convinced themselves that it would never fail in God-fearing Kansas.

They weren't that delusional. They knew abortion had majority support in the state. The polling on choice (56% pro-choice) is well known by most of the politically aware in Kansas. That's why they held the vote on August 2 instead of the general election in November. Doing their best to improve the odds.

Abortion bans could only happen if there was an amendment removing any constitutional protection of choice. And amendments in Kansas can only be added by popular vote. The legislature's choices were roll the dice on a public vote, or do absolutely nothing about abortion. The latter was completely unpalatable to the legislators and their supporters. So they chose to gamble.

I didn't know about Iowa going through a similar amendment process. In a way, that's good news. Iowa's voters will get a say. I'd expect the results will be similar to Kansas. Maybe with an even bigger margin of victory since Iowa is slightly more liberal than Kansas. And by 2024, there will be no doubt in anyone's minds about what an abortion ban really means for the people living under it.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 11:06 PM on August 3 [7 favorites]


Maybe I missed it, but I don't think anyone's corrected this from early in the thread:

Kansas has an amendment already affirming women's right to choose.

This might be a small quibble, but it's a state supreme court ruling from 2019 that's affirmed this, not a prior amendment.

And here's the text of that ruling, which relies on a finding that the state constitution's first post-preamble sentence, "[a]ll men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" necessarily requires a natural right to individual bodily autonomy.

Which is to say that all of this is vulnerable to a future potentially rightwing court's whims, and that the Kansas anti-choice activists are next going to try to reshape the state supreme court, which makes this November's election crucial, both for the governor's race (currently neck and neck?) and for the process in which 5 out of the 6 justices who voted for the 2019 decision (as well as the lone justice who dissented) are up for a "retention vote."
posted by nobody at 5:11 AM on August 4 [11 favorites]


WaPo: How abortion rights activists won the vote. Gift link that should be free of the paywall.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:18 AM on August 4


They will target the justices this year. But I’m not too worried. Pro life groups have targeted them before to no effect. Any reminder to the public about how a justice defended choice will probably just increase votes for that justice.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:20 AM on August 4




Proud of my home state.
posted by Don.Kinsayder at 1:08 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong, this did not make abortions illegal it just removed the constitutional protections in place by the Kansas constitution affirming abortion rights.

You are correct, but the GOP currently has a veto proof majority in both Kansas Houses and is on record if the amendment had passed they’d ban all abortion.
posted by jmauro at 7:18 PM on August 4 [2 favorites]


Came across this list of abortion measures on the ballot in 2022 (plus 2023 & 2024) on Ballotpedia.

California, Vermont, Michigan, Kentucky, and Montana will all have a go this November. California, Vermont, and Michigan all have positive amendments / propositions which will affirm reproductive choice. Kentucky votes on an amendment similar to the one rejected in Kansas. And I'm not entirely sure what Montana is doing.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 6:02 PM on August 5


41 percent voted yes. This is terrifying.

Percentage based on voters only but still.
posted by andreinla at 7:32 PM on August 5 [1 favorite]


Update on Washington’s 3rd district primary!

One of the two places in the primary has been called for Democrat Marie Perez.

The other position is very much in question. With greater than 95% of votes counted, the gap between the incumbent Jamie Herrera Beutler and Trump-endorsed Joe Kent has closed to less than a 10th of a percent with Herrera Beutler leading by 257 votes! Wow!
posted by chrchr at 9:30 PM on August 5


Unintended consequences of anti-abortion laws (WaPo, so perhaps paywalled)
A common example is for a woman whose water has broken around 18 or 19 weeks. The risks of continuing that pregnancy to the health of the woman and the fetus include developmental problems for the fetus and the risk of infection for the woman.
But under the proposed abortion ban in Nebraska, Patel said, it is not clear whether even explaining termination options in such a circumstance would be legal.
“Imagine we are in a state with a ban, and that fetus has a heart rate, and the patient sitting in front of me is not ill. This is going to be a tough situation for a physician to be in,” Patel said. “A physician is not going to want to be in a position where they are going to be criminally prosecuted for providing routine care and counseling.”
It’s the sort of legal uncertainty and danger that top doctors will seek to avoid, she added: “These states where bans are going into effect are going to have trouble recruiting for the next generation of OB/GYNs.”
posted by mumimor at 3:02 AM on August 7 [4 favorites]


FUCK YEAH KANSAS
posted by medusa at 8:56 PM on August 7 [1 favorite]


Final WA-3 update: the race has been called for the Trumpist candidate Joe Kent. Jamie Herrera Beutler, who voted to impeach after Jan. 6, is narrowly defeated. Kent will face off against Democrat Marie Perez in November in the Republican leaning district.
posted by chrchr at 9:53 PM on August 8


Of course, Republicans who don't support insurrection could "hold their nose" and vote for Perez in order to keep Kent out of that seat.
posted by Gelatin at 5:45 AM on August 9


https://www.cbsnews.com/pittsburgh/news/pennsylvania-anti-abortion-constitutional-amendment/

Pennsylvania is at risk for an anti-abortion amendment.

"The [anti-abortion] amendment, which passed the Republican-controlled legislature recently and must pass again next year to get on the ballot, says: "This Constitution does not grant the right to a taxpayer-funded abortion or any other right relating to abortion." "
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 9:39 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I hope Pennsylvania gets a pro-choice legislature that can stop this. But if it happens, it might be a good thing. I would imagine Pennsylvania would get a similar landslide to Kansas. If there's enough of these landslides, then maybe some Republican politicians would realize this is a losing issue. And some Democratic politicians would realize this is a winning issue and act accordingly.

I can't see this sort of amendment winning in very many states. Maybe a few in the south would support it. But even there, I think the amendments would lose. Though maybe the elections would be tighter than Kansas.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 9:06 AM on August 11


Call Jane [SLYT trailer, Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver]
posted by Glinn at 5:44 PM on August 16


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