Republican lawmakers are scrambling to reassure their pro-life base in the aftermath of Tuesday's stunning pro-choice victory in Kansas. While many Democrats see the bill’s failure as the latest indication of widespread disapproval of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Republicans are blaming abortion rights groups and their expensive ad campaign.
“So much money was spent by hardcore abortion supporters to make sure that amendment failed,” Federalist Editor-in-Chief Molly Hemingway said on Fox News.
Right-wing political operator Matt Schlapp claimed the problem was that the measure wasn't conservative enough. “It was not a heartbeat bill it was a late term ban along [with] other basic regulations,” he posted on Twitter. “With a pro life governor look for much stronger pro life victories soon. A blip.”
The coalition behind the proposed amendment, “Value Them Both,” blamed “an onslaught of misinformation from radical left organizations” for the collapse of the measure. "We will be back," they vowed, calling the defeat a "temporary setback."
Pro-choice advocates see the vote as a watershed for Democrats. Although they see fighting for abortion rights as an uphill battle, they are encouraged by recent polls that suggest the majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. “We helped Kansans understand this amendment would lead to an extreme ban on abortion that would put the lives of women and girls at risk,” read a statement released by Kansans for Freedom, a coalition opposing the amendment.
In Kansas, a state which hasn’t gone blue in a Presidential election since 1964, the measure’s failure came as a shock. In order to draw support from moderate conservatives and independments, the campaign against the measure looked not only to abortion rights groups like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union, but also enlisted the League of Women Voters of Kansas, the Mainstream Coalition and other groups.
One ad by Kansans for Constitutional Freedom spoke more to ideological opposition to abortion rather than a moral, feminist perspective. They cast the amendment as a “strict government mandate designed to interfere with private medical decisions” and likened abortion restrictions to vaccine and mask mandates.
“We found common ground among diverse voting blocs and mobilized people across the political spectrum to vote no,” Rachel Sweet, the campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, told reporters yesterday.
“Kansans across the political spectrum believe in personal liberty and freedom,” she continued. “They understand that we must protect our constitutional rights and freedom to make private medical decisions, including those about abortion.”