The press corps is making a big deal of the defeat of the Kansas abortion referendum on Tuesday, and for once they’re right. The 20-or-so point rout of the effort to strip abortion protections from the state constitution is a message to Republicans and the anti-abortion movement that a total ban isn’t popular even in a right-leaning state.
The defeated amendment wouldn’t have imposed abortion restrictions. It would have overruled a 2019 ruling by the state Supreme Court that found a right to abortion in the Kansas constitution—a case of judicial law-writing in our view. But voters were clearly wary of how far the Kansas Legislature would go if allowed to impose abortion restrictions. Nearby Oklahoma and Missouri now have near-total bans, and Kansans have been paying attention.