I Have a Feeling the Abortion Fight Isn’t in Kansas Anymore
Tuesday’s biggest takeaway is that the pro-life movement ran out of gas somewhere between Arrowhead Stadium and the Arkansas River. Earlier this year, Kansas’ Republican legislature tried to amend the state constitution to allow limitations and bans on the mother of all controversial medical procedures, with just one problem: They needed a referendum to do it. That referendum hit the ballot last night, and voters swatted it down in a landslide. A landslide!
If you’re the GOP, the time to batten down the hatches just came and went; it’s time to start figuring out how to get the heck off this boat before November. Kansas is conservative home turf, the state that gave us Senator Bob “it most certainly does not take a village” Dole. The legislature scheduled this race for the primary season, when Democrats have as much reason to get off the couch as a Sacramento Kings concession worker in June. And, speaking of Democrats, the sign of the donkey is governing the nation at a time when gas costs more than $4 a gallon and candidates that make Father Coughlin look like a 60s beatnik are set to enter the House in a “red wave.” And yet, Kansans still killed the abortion limits referendum on the vine like a cockroach on a crop duster.
If Kansas was the only state where abortion was on the ballot, that would be bad enough. (It is the only state where abortion is directly on the ballot.) But the ability to get an abortion is also at issue in less conservative states, like Pennsylvania and Arizona. (And Michigan, where a controlling interest of the state’s Republicans literally want to enforce an abortion ban from the 1920s. Abortion couldn’t be more on the ballot in Michigan if the machines themselves had specula attached.) It’s tough to imagine a state like Pennsylvania lurching right where Kansas lurched left, and it’s tough to imagine a world where our voters couldn’t tell the difference.
You don’t have to like abortion to uphold it at the ballot box. You can believe, as millions of faithful people do, that life is good, that it’s worth the time and money from individuals and communities alike to make it flourish and grow, even as you marvel at the gumption it takes to exile a 10-year old rape victim for seeking to end her pregnancy. You can believe one and be bewildered at the other, together, at the same time, with a burning zeal. And you can vote accordingly — in secret.
Elsewhere, the horizon of American politics grew a shade or two darker: Election deniers swept the Republican primaries in Arizona, including a Senate nominee stained with anti-Semitism. Former President Trump’s revenge tour continued in Michigan, where one of the Republican congressmen who voted to impeach him was spat out of the House in the primary round. The far Right’s power over the Grand Old Party finds its limits in Georgia, and Georgia alone.
As for the limits of its power over everything else? Well, we can start with Kansas.