Protestors carry signs at a June 24, 2022, rally in Kansas City, Missouri, after the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated abortion rights. (Margaret Mellott/Kansas Reflector)
TOPEKA — The first public poll for the Kansas constitutional amendment on abortion shows a close race and exposes other ideological divides over reproductive rights.
Kansans will decide in the Aug. 2 election whether to remove a right to abortion from the state’s constitution. Advanced voting is underway across the state.
The vote will be the first on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe V. Wade in June. Passage of the amendment would reverse a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling and allow the Legislature to impose a total ban on abortion or other restrictions. Rejection of the amendment would preserve access to regulated abortion services.
As things stand in the Co/efficient poll shared with FiveThirtyEight, 47% of the more than 1,500 voters sampled support the so-called “Value Them Both” amendment, and 43% are against it. The remaining 10% are undecided.
Of voters ages 18 to 34 strongly, 75% oppose the amendment and 52% Kansans ages 35 to 44 also opposed it. The majority of those ages 45 to 54 55 to 64 and 65 and up supported the amendment, with 52%, 51% and 50% in support respectively.
The competitiveness of the campaign has been amplified by the reversal of Roe. According to Vote.org, Kansas saw a 1,038% increase in voter registrations in the week following the decision.
Because of the 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision, the state is one of few Midwestern states where the right to an abortion is still intact. Abortion remains legal until 22 weeks of pregnancy, or in cases where the life or physical health of a patient is severely compromised.
Opponents argue the Legislature will act to ban abortion if the amendment passes. In audio obtained by Kansas Reflector, a then-regional director of the Value Them Both Coalition said during a meeting of Reno County Republicans last month that legislation was ready to ban abortion.
The regional director referenced legislation introduced this past session that would criminalize all abortions from the moment of fertilization until birth with felony punishment equal to murder. There are exceptions for miscarriages, ectopic pregnancies and stillbirths but not for rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.
The statements run in contrast to supporters of the amendment who emphasize the amendment on its own doesn’t ban abortion. A spokeswoman for the coalition said the regional director in the audio was no longer with the coalition.
Only 5% of respondents in the new poll said they wanted a total abortion ban.
“This extreme ban on abortion is absolutely out of step with the values of most Kansans and puts the lives of our daughters, granddaughters, and women across the state at serious risk,” said Ashley All, spokeswoman for Kansas for Constitutional Freedom, in a statement responding to the audio.
In ads and tweets from the Value Them Both Coalition, abortion supporters have asserted several times that the “opposition is spending millions lying to you about the Value Them Both Amendment.”
“Voting yes will ensure we have common sense abortion limits in Kansas,” one ad states.
Only 7% support a ban with an exception only for the mother’s health, indicating laws like the one in Oklahoma would be out of public favor.
A ban with exceptions for rape and incest, in addition to the mother’s health, received support from 19% of respondents.
The organization leading the charge to defeat the amendment raised $6.54 million in contributions since the start of 2022 and the association spearheading support for the amendment has raised $4.69 million in that same period.
All groups combined have spent more than $13 million in 2022 on the amendment, the most in state history for a ballot measure.
Of those polled, 86% said they are familiar with the constitutional amendment.
The story has been updated to reflect 52% Kansans ages 35 to 44 opposed the amendment, and that the majority of those ages 45 to 54 55 to 64 and 65 and up supported the amendment.
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