Kansas votes to protect abortion rights

The US state of Kansas has backed the right to abortion: in a referendum held earlier this week, around 60 percent voted in favour of a provision in the state constitution that would allow women to decide for themselves whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy. In June, the Supreme Court overturned a 1973 landmark ruling on abortion rights. Commentators debate the significance of the vote.

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Aftonbladet (SE) /

An important freedom regained

The Kansas referendum has prevented measures unworthy of a democracy, writes Aftonbladet:

“American women started deleting their menstrual cycle apps. There is widespread concern that a digitally documented missed period associated with travel to another state could be used as evidence against women charged with illegal abortion. This was an inconceivable development. Fortunately, the people of Kansas have shown the rest of the United States that it is possible to take back a woman's right to control her own body.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

An uplifting sign

Jyllands-Posten sees the result as a clear indicator:

“The uplifting thing about the Kansas referendum is that the electorate in the state is conservative, and the Republicans are in power. Yet many Republican voters came out strongly in support of abortion rights. The value that this signals should not be underestimated. We can only hope that what should actually be an inalienable right for women will also prevail in other American states where abortion opponents traditionally have a strong foothold.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Decision left well in the hands of the people

The Tages-Anzeiger sees a stroke of luck:

“A clear majority in this conservative state bordering anti-abortion regions Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi wants to keep abortion rights in the constitution. ... This correlates with the clear findings of public opinion polls for many years that a majority of Americans support liberal abortion rights, regardless of their party preference. ... In this respect, the Kansas referendum turned out to be a godsend for the people and an opportunity for open debate. It remains to be seen if this will actually become widespread. But clearly, the authority to regulate crucial issues is not always in bad hands with the people.”

The Spectator (GB) /

Just as the Supreme Court intended

The Supreme Court will no doubt feel vindicated by the outcome of the referendum, The Spectator believes:

“The vote in Kansas was exactly what the court was talking about: it's decision was not intentionally designed to end abortion rights (though no doubt it increased the risk in many states), but to return the decision to legislators, who are directly accountable to the public. The Kansas vote is now a primary example of how the Court's ruling does not necessarily mean less access to abortion, but can actually enshrine the right on the state level through democratic consent.”

Polityka (PL) /

A vote of nationwide relevance

Polityka is convinced:

“The significance of the referendum in Kansas transcends the borders of this state and the abortion issue. Kentucky and Vermont will also hold referendums this year on whether to include abortion rights in their state constitutions. After the Supreme Court ruling the pro-life movement announced that it would seek a federal ban on abortion, but that would require an act of Congress. The outcome in Kansas proves that this is unlikely. ... After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, polls showed a significant increase in support for Democratic candidates for Congress.”