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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.