Kansans will be the first voters in the nation to weigh in on the abortion issue since the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade with the Dobbs decision late last month. On the ballot in the Kansas primary, which will be held on August 2, is a state constitutional amendment which may determine once and for all whether Kansans believe abortion is a right.
Donors and organizations from across the state and across the country have poured nearly $15 million into various campaigns for the amendment, hoping to sway the electorate.
Though the amendment was first proposed in January 2021, leaders on both sides say that the recent Dobbs decision has heightened the stakes of the vote.
“Donations from Kansas grassroots donors have remained strong throughout. But we definitely saw an uptick in out-of-state small dollar donations immediately following the Dobbs decision,” said Ashley All, a spokeswoman for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, a group which champions abortion rights and has spent over $5.8 million on defeating the amendment.
In addition to Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, more than 35 other organizations have filed campaign reports for this amendment, including Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, various Catholic dioceses across the state, and Susan B. Anthony, a national pro-life group. The Value Them Both Association, the leading fundraiser for the pro-life/yes vote, has spent nearly $5.5 million on the campaign.
In total, about $10 million dollars have poured into pro-abortion coffers, and The Wichita Eagle reports that most of this money comes from national and regional organizations. Meanwhile, pro-life groups have raised about $8 million, mostly from local organizations, including the Catholic Church. According to records, the Archdiocese of Kansas City has donated just under $3 million to the cause in the past two years. Other dioceses in the state have also made significant contributions.
“What we want to do is ensure that pro-life Kansans turn out for this ballot incitive vote. Certainly, it’s the first since the Dobbs ruling, but it’s not going to be the last,” said Mallory Carroll of Susan B Anthony.
In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court issued a ruling which effectively declared abortion to be a constitutionally-protected right. The amendment before voters, which supporters have dubbed the “Value Them Both” Amendment, declares that there is no right to abortion, so the wording is a bit confusing. A “yes” vote says there is no right to an abortion, while a “no” vote would enshrine abortion as a state right.
If “yes” prevails, abortion will not be outlawed. However, voters and legislators will be able to impose restrictions on it. If “no” prevails, then abortion will be considered a constitutionally-protected right impervious to restriction.