Lynne Hermansen
Lhermansen@cherryroad.com
In a landslide Tuesday August 2, Kansas voters defeated a constitutional amendment by a 60 to 40 margin that would have sent abortion rights to the State Legislature to decide on if the amendment had it been won.The constitutional amendment would have nullified the 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling striking down a state law banning a common second-term abortion procedure. The court said the right to bodily autonomy in the state constitution’s Bill of Rights includes the decision to terminate a pregnancy. The amendment voted on in the primary would have given the Legislature the authority to pass any kind of abortion restriction, without exceptions for rape, incest or a patient’s health. Amendment 2’s defeat means abortion will continue to be legal and heavily regulated in Kansas.Polling and political observers expected a close result. Kansas was the first state to vote on abortion rights and determine its own rules for reproductive health care after the U. S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and attracted National attention.
Over 900,000 votes were counted as of 10:30a.m. Wednesday, August 3 with no votes beating yes votes by a 59 to 41 percent, 18 point margin.68 percent of Johnson County voters chose no on Tuesday.Voters showed up in huge, unforeseen predicted numbers in urban areas mostly in the east and south portions of the state, while rural areas underperformed compared with turnout in the presidential race two years ago.
The voter turnout was reported as the biggest numbers for a primary in the State in years.Secretary of State and chief election official Scott Schwab predicted the primary turnout would surpass the 36 percent originally projected and possibly reach 50 percent before the polls closed. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly said she has always maintained that a woman’s reproductive health care decisions should be between her and her physician.“I’m proud to say that Kansans stood up for our fundamental rights today,”she said.President Joe Biden said in a released statement the vote makes clear “the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions.”
Biden said Congress should listen to the will of the American people and “restore the protections of Roe as federal law.”
Supporters of the amendment, including many religious institutions heavily dominated by Catholic bishops and dioceses throughout the State, spent millions of dollars in a “Value Them Both”campaign to educate and influence voters.
Opponents of the amendment complained the amendment contained misleading language.
The amendment claims to ban government-funded abortion, which is already banned under state law, and suggests the Legislature could provide exceptions in state law for rape, incest or the life of a mother. The amendment doesn’t state that it would require those exceptions.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s annual reporting shows that a typical abortion in Kansas involves a woman of color between the ages of 20 and 30 who lives in Kansas or Missouri and is unmarried, already has at least one child, has never had an abortion before, is less than nine weeks from gestation and uses the drug mifepristone to terminate her pregnancy.
Patients are required to receive state-ordered counseling designed to discourage her from having an abortion, waited at least 24 hours, looked at an ultrasound image and paid for the procedure out of her own pocket with the current, existing state restrictions.
KDHE reported no abortions have occurred outside of the legal threshold of 22 weeks in the state, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

Johnson County Election results:

County Commission
The top two candidates for Johnson County Commission chairperson and District 5 commissioner were selected. The positions are nonpartisan.
Candidates Mike Kelly and Charlotte O’Hara beat out Shirley Allenbrand and Ken Selzer and head to the general election November 8.
Kelly, Roeland Park mayor, focused his campaign on climate innovation and economic development. He won 40.9 percent of the vote.
Kelly said he want to invest in stable infrastructure and supports developments like the future Panasonic battery plant coming to the former Sunflower Ammunition Plant in DeSoto.
O’Hara, current commissioner, focused on transparency and budget cuts. She won 27.7 percent of the vote.
She said she’d like to see the county health department return to its pre-pandemic budget. She has promised there wouldn’t be emergency shutdowns, vaccine or mask mandates and has openly spoken out against solar farms, warehouse development, the Panasonic project and government incentives and raised taxes for economic developments.
The commission chair is currently held by Ed Eilert who plans on retiring at the end of the year.
Michael Ashcraft and Stephanie Berland will meet in the general election for the District 5 seat.
More than one fifth of the state population lives in Johnson County, and the commission is the main governing body. It oversees a more than $1.45 billion budget and serves as the public health board for the county.