The Kansas Abortion Message

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Democracy is working its will on the issue, as the Supreme Court said.

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.

…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.

Anti-abortion forces can’t find much of a silver-lining in the vote. Their timing in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade was obviously poor as abortion-rights activists were motivated. Voter turnout was unusually heavy for a primary election date. The referendum did far worse than supporters expected even in conservative counties in the state.

A majority of the public supports a right to abortion at least up to several weeks of pregnancy. This is disappointing to those who believe life begins at conception, but it means the pro-life side has persuading to do if it wants to win the abortion debate.

Democrats and the press are touting the Kansas vote as a sign that progressive voters are motivated to turn out this year and might save their control of Congress despite inflation, rising crime and other national ills. That’s far from certain, but Republicans would be wise to take the warning seriously.

The Supreme Court didn’t settle the abortion question. It rightly returned it to the voters, and the Kansas referendum is merely the start of a long national debate.

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