What Happened in Kansas

 

A few weeks ago, I got into an argument with my mother about Amendment 2, an attempt in the State of Kansas to amend the State Constitution to allow restrictions on abortion without interference from the State Supreme Court. The court had ruled in 2019, via the use of auguries and animal entrails because it sure wasn’t in the actual language, that the Constitution allowed abortion on demand. Mom’s politics are all over the place, but her religious beliefs are pretty nearly Fundamentalist, so it felt a little surreal to find out she was voting no. In our half-hour argument, I bet I heard the words “ectopic pregnancy” and “miscarriage’ at least a dozen times. I assured her that the amendment wouldn’t threaten the life of the mother in difficult pregnancy situations and kept trying to steer the conversation back to abortion, but she would have none of it. At one point, she yelled, “If this thing passes, women are gonna die.” Later, as I reflected on the conversation, for the first time I sensed that the amendment might lose.

Prior to the Dobbs decision, I had no such sense. Throughout the springtime, you only saw signs supporting a yes vote and the ads on the radio were all for the affirmative. I live a rather sheltered life here in the heartland, but there didn’t seem to be much national interest in our debate and all the enthusiasm was on one side. That continued past the leaked Alito opinion, but it radically changed when the Dobbs decision became official. For the pro-abortion crowd, the Kansas election suddenly became the most important vote in the world. The election still didn’t generate much national journalistic interest (we are talking about Kansas, after all), but a massive amount of money came pouring into the State. “No” vote ads swamped social media and the airwaves and signs began to pop up all over. Every day brought another “vote no” flyer in the mail.

The ads were smart. Apparently, the word “abortion” and the phrase “woman’s right to choose” didn’t do well in focus groups so the ads rarely used the word “abortion” and also steered clear of “choice,” except to pair it with the word “freedom.” The flyers used the f-word a lot and argued that the amendment was an attempt to take away our hard-fought freedoms. They also emphasized how poorly worded the amendment was. That was probably the most honest point on the flyer. It WAS poorly worded. It was bad grammatically and even had a spelling error.  It read like it was written by someone making his last wish for the genie and trying cover all the loopholes that might get him killed.

And the flyers and ads talked a lot about ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages. It wasn’t hard to figure out where Mom got her information.

That kind of persuasion can be effective here. Nationally, Kansas is considered solidly a red state, but it’s more of a Republican state than a conservative state and the Republican party here is hopelessly fractured. There is a core that is solidly conservative that constitutes maybe half the party and the remaining half is moderate and incredibly fickle. When they don’t like the conservative approach, throw their lot in with the small but dogged Democratic Party. And the moderates are easily swayed. That’s how we ended with more years under Democratic governors than with Republican governors over the last sixty years. That’s how we ended up with a Supreme Court that would, on the surface, seem more at home in, say, Oregon than in red-state Kansas.

The last poll before the vote indicated that yes was still winning, although the poll was well within the margin of error and indicated that 10% of those polled were still undecided. I wasn’t surprised that it lost, but the final tally was a shock. The no vote won by almost twenty points. It wasn’t a turnout issue either. Turnout was huge, way beyond what we normally see in a primary in an off-year election.

I would imagine that the pro-life people will try again at some point, but the margin is daunting. This is not something that can be fixed just by wording the amendment better. Pro-lifers are going to have to come up with better arguments and they’d better be prepared for a whole new set of lies to fight through next time. Even then, it might not be enough.

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  1. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Isn’t this what we wanted after Dobbs Kelly? Let each state voters and/or  legislators figure it out. No problem with this one. Thanks Justice Alioto. 

    • #1
  2. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Isn’t this what we wanted after Dobbs Kelly? Let each state voters and/or legislators figure it out. No problem with this one. Thanks Justice Alioto.

    Yes, in a way, but now it’s the Kansas Supreme Court running interference, instead of the US Supreme Court.

    • #2
  3. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    The text of the amendment was grim. It mentions “abortion” three times, as well as “rape” and “incest.” The only mention of “life” is about dangers to the life of the mother. It never mentions the baby as a life. It never talks about a baby being a person.

    Pro-life amendments and legislation should be joyful. We are talking about more wonderful little babies being born! After reading the ballot text, voters should be left thinking about holding a cute, cooing baby, not about rape and incest.

    • #3
  4. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    kedavis (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Isn’t this what we wanted after Dobbs Kelly? Let each state voters and/or legislators figure it out. No problem with this one. Thanks Justice Alioto.

    Yes, in a way, but now it’s the Kansas Supreme Court running interference, instead of the US Supreme Court.

    So what? It’s a state issue.  Nothing in the U.S. Constitution about this stuff.  Let the voters have the say. 

    • #4
  5. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    The text of the amendment was grim. It mentions “abortion” three times, as well as “rape” and “incest.” The only mention of “life” is about dangers to the life of the mother. It never mentions the baby as a life. It never talks about a baby being a person.

    Pro-life amendments and legislation should be joyful. We are talking about more wonderful little babies being born! After reading the ballot text, voters should be left thinking about holding a cute, cooing baby, not about rape and incest.

    Don’t disagree Steve. But doesn’t it come down to what the citizens want? Dobbs says no U.S. constitutional right to abortion.  Clearly the right decision. So up to each state to figure out what is legal. California will be a lot different than Oklahoma. Just like death penalty decisions. Or lots of other political stuff. Still see no problem. 

    • #5
  6. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    navyjag (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Isn’t this what we wanted after Dobbs Kelly? Let each state voters and/or legislators figure it out. No problem with this one. Thanks Justice Alioto.

    Yes, in a way, but now it’s the Kansas Supreme Court running interference, instead of the US Supreme Court.

    So what? It’s a state issue. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution about this stuff. Let the voters have the say.

    The argument would be that the Kansas Supreme Court is bypassing the voters the same way the US Supreme Court did for almost 50 years.

    • #6
  7. navyjag Coolidge
    navyjag
    @navyjag

    So let the Kansas voters take care of it. Do S. Ct types come up for reelection there? Sure didn’t did not come out o.k. for Rose Bird in California, and a few others, in 1986. Could not happen today. But Kansas is not that lost yet. 

    • #7
  8. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    kedavis (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Isn’t this what we wanted after Dobbs Kelly? Let each state voters and/or legislators figure it out. No problem with this one. Thanks Justice Alioto.

    Yes, in a way, but now it’s the Kansas Supreme Court running interference, instead of the US Supreme Court.

    So what? It’s a state issue. Nothing in the U.S. Constitution about this stuff. Let the voters have the say.

    The argument would be that the Kansas Supreme Court is bypassing the voters the same way the US Supreme Court did for almost 50 years.

    In 2019 the state supreme court concluded that the state constitution’s language providing that “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” was an absolute protection for abortion. Obviously, that says nothing about abortion, so the court just made it up because of their ideological wishes.

    • #8
  9. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    What happened in Kansas is that a vast turnout of voters was accomplished by the proponents of abortion.  Their ability to do this augurs poorly for the GOP in November.  I have been saying for months that there will be no red tsunami.  Here is one more sign to that effect.

    • #9
  10. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    The Kansas state Senate has 29 Republicans and 11 Democrats.  The Kansas House has 86 Republicans  and 39 Democrats.

    I mentioned in the initial thread on this topic that the constitutional referendum appeared to be overreach and that the wiser move would have been to pass another law restricting abortion (see Mississippi and Dobbs) without a referendum.

    This would be vetoed by Laura Kelly, the Democratic governor, setting the stage for a veto override and a likely court challenge which would force the Kansas court to clarify its position further on the extent of the right to abortion under the constitution.

    From my perspective on the East Coast, the referendum was a bad idea, and I think most people post-Dobbs thought the matter would play out in the legislatures.

    • #10
  11. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member
    9thDistrictNeighbor
    @9thDistrictNeighbor

    Comment removed…inaccurate.

    • #11
  12. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    The Kansas state Senate has 29 Republicans and 11 Democrats. The Kansas House has 86 Republicans and 39 Democrats.

    I mentioned in the initial thread on this topic that the constitutional referendum appeared to be overreach and that the wiser move would have been to pass another law restricting abortion (see Mississippi and Dobbs) without a referendum.

    This would be vetoed by Laura Kelly, the Democratic governor, setting the stage for a veto override and a likely court challenge which would force the Kansas court to clarify its position further on the extent of the right to abortion under the constitution.

    From my perspective on the East Coast, the referendum was a bad idea, and I think most people post-Dobbs thought the matter would play out in the legislatures.

    I agree now that my 20/20 hindsight has kicked in. Perhaps, however, the legislatures never saw this tsunami coming. They took it for granted that Kansans couldn’t possibly be deceived by a horribly crafted referendum, because, after all, it was about abortion and everyone knew Kansans were against it. So they worded a referendum such that if you were against the subject matter then you needed to vote YES. It was counterintuitive. I am not an uneducated idiot, but I do have the time to investigate my upcoming ballot so that I am ready to vote the way that will promote my beliefs. Some, perhaps many, people do not.

    OTOH, people also have a strong aversion to being told what to do, especially by government. We need to understand each other and find a compromise that will certainly be tough on everyone. The Dobbs law in Mississippi did just that, I think. When women are led to believe that abortion under any circumstance will be illegal, they naturally rebel.

    • #12
  13. Bride Coolidge
    Bride
    @BrideL

    Im a Kansan, and this is the gospel truth about Kansas…

    “Nationally, Kansas is considered solidly a red state, but it’s more of a Republican state than a conservative state and the Republican party here is hopelessly fractured. There is a core that is solidly conservative that constitutes maybe half the party and the remaining half is moderate and incredibly fickle. When they don’t like the conservative approach, throw their lot in with the small but dogged Democratic Party. And the moderates are easily swayed. That’s how we ended with more years under Democratic governors than with Republican governors over the last sixty years. That’s how we ended up with a Supreme Court that would, on the surface, seem more at home in, say, Oregon than in red state Kansas.”

    Well said Sir. Aint noway I could say this better. Thank You.

    • #13
  14. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    cdor (View Comment):
    When women are led to believe that abortion under any circumstance will be illegal, they naturally rebel.

    You left out “falsely.”

    When women are falsely led to believe that abortion under any circumstance will be illegal, they naturally (?) rebel.

    • #14
  15. Kelly D Johnston Coolidge
    Kelly D Johnston
    @SoupGuy

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Isn’t this what we wanted after Dobbs Kelly? Let each state voters and/or legislators figure it out. No problem with this one. Thanks Justice Alioto.

    You are correct, but the pro-abortion folks prepared for the post-Roe era better than we did, at least in Kansas with its unique circumstances. The pro-life campaign badly misplayed Kansas. It can be fixed, but underscores a bigger problem – the pro-life forces are behind the eight ball. They need better advice, counsel, and coordination. 

    • #15
  16. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Kelly D Johnston (View Comment):

    navyjag (View Comment):

    Isn’t this what we wanted after Dobbs Kelly? Let each state voters and/or legislators figure it out. No problem with this one. Thanks Justice Alioto.

    You are correct, but the pro-abortion folks prepared for the post-Roe era better than we did, at least in Kansas with its unique circumstances. The pro-life campaign badly misplayed Kansas. It can be fixed, but underscores a bigger problem – the pro-life forces are behind the eight ball. They need better advice, counsel, and coordination.

    I dunno, was it reasonable to expect/predict/whatever that a state Supreme Court would misbehave so badly?

    • #16
  17. HeavyWater Reagan
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    The Kansas abortion referendum isn’t the last abortion referendum that will be held in 2022.  

    On November 8, four states will hold abortion referendums.  Two of these states are blue states, California and Vermont.  Two of these states are red states, Kentucky and Montana.  

    Perhaps the pro-life movement has learned some lessons from the Kansas defeat and will apply these lessons to the battles in those four states this November.  

    • #17
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