Democrats view the Kansas abortion victory as a good sign for the midterm elections

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A decisive victory For the abortion rights movement in Kansas, Democrats on Wednesday sought to capitalize on indicators of strong voter anger over conservative efforts to curtail access to abortion.

What is the first direct test at the ballot box of attitudes toward abortion law? The Supreme Court overruled Roe v. Wade In JuneKansas voters on Tuesday Strongly rejected A constitutional amendment that paved the way for the removal of abortion rights in the state. Democrats pointed to the moment as even stronger evidence that the conservative-leaning Supreme Court ruling and other efforts by Republicans to block abortion rights could backfire politically for the GOP.

“After this vote in Kansas it’s time to reevaluate the conventional wisdom about midterms,” ​​Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) wrote. “People are mad as hell about taking away their rights.”

Voter turnout was high in the conservative state of Kansas — a major surge during the summer’s midterm polls and the first major data point to demonstrate that abortion will be a significant push in the fall in the eyes of many Democrats.

President Biden highlighted the vote on Wednesday. to say Republicans “don’t have a clue about the power of American women. Last night in Congress and in Kansas, they found out.”

Weighed down by Biden’s low approval ratings and rising inflation, Democrats are eyeing the fall campaign with trepidation and are eager to tap into the more favorable issues that motivate voters to vote for their candidates. After the Supreme Court ruling, many Democrats began refocusing their campaigns on abortion, framing their candidacies as bulwarks against GOP efforts to curtail reproductive rights.

But until Tuesday, there were no indicators that a strategy as assertive as the one unfolding in Kansas would be successful.

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Established with a constitutional right to abortion Ro No longer relevant, abortion rights activists are turning to ballot measures, state races and legislative battles to protect and expand abortion rights on a temporary basis. Democrats and abortion rights activists, who are often aligned with the party, are sounding increasingly optimistic notes that both efforts may fail.

Democrats are trying to boost turnout and build momentum for House and Senate races, where many candidates are touting their efforts at the federal level, including trying to make abortion rights law through a congressional vote.

Still, it remains to be seen whether Democrats can effectively connect abortion as an issue to voters who choose between candidates in the fall. Most Republicans tried to campaign on inflation and the economy, avoiding abortion as much as possible. They were much quieter on the issue than Democrats after Tuesday’s vote in Kansas.

At least four states will take abortion measures this November, which party strategists say could increase Democratic voter turnout in those states, in addition to deciding on abortion laws. This includes initiatives California And VermontMeasures to protect abortion access within those states.

Michigan voters are expected to see a measure that expands and protects abortion access in the state on the November ballot after activists. More than 750,000 signatures were returned, which was twice the required number. The ballot measure still needs final approval, pending signatures.

“Today’s extraordinary turnout in Kansas is a bellwether for what’s to come in the midterm elections this November, and it’s important that we keep this momentum going,” Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood, said in a statement.

Some Republicans downplayed the impact of the Kansas results — especially for Senate races. They noted that there are currently no abortion referendums on the ballot in places targeting Senate races. But several House races in California and Michigan, where abortion is on the ballot, are already expected to be close.

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Anti-abortion activists vowed to redouble their efforts after the Kansas decision. “The stakes for the pro-life movement in the upcoming midterm elections could not be higher, and many factors will be at play,” said SBA Pro-Life America spokeswoman Mallory Carroll. “Pro-life is so important that candidates are taking offense to expose the extremism of the Democratic Party’s policy goals of nationalized abortion at the request of taxpayers.”

The group contributed $1.7 million to their failed Kansas effort and, along with affiliated groups, plans to contribute an additional $78 million to this year’s election.

Michigan, a key swing state in recent presidential elections, is closely watching the gubernatorial election this fall, where incumbent Gov. Gretchen Whitmer hopes to win re-election. Democrats hope to flip the state Senate from red to blue and win key battleground US House races.

Some activists who oppose the proposed measure on Michigan’s ballot say the question voters will face in November will be different than the one Kansans decided on Tuesday.

“It’s very difficult to compare the two ballot measures,” said Kristen Polo, spokeswoman for Citizens for Michigan Women and Children, a coalition of anti-abortion activists opposing the ballot measure. “What happened in Kansas will not affect our campaign.”

Michigan’s ballot measure would include language protecting access to abortion and other reproductive health services and prevent the courts from enforcing the 1931 abortion ban. But Polo said the Michigan measure would tie lawmakers’ hands more than the Kansas proposal, creating limits on abortion that range from parental consent laws to bans on late-term abortions.

“People are very confused and very concerned about how radical this abortion amendment is,” Pollo said. Although he thinks the abortion battles in Michigan and Kansas are very different, Polo acknowledged a commonality, saying, “I think it’s going to be an important issue for voters,” he said. “Even to those who do not speak [abortion] This is an important issue for them and it has taken center stage.

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Abortion-rights advocates in Michigan cheered the Kansas vote and suggested the victory would foreshadow victory in the Michigan ballot in November.

“This is a huge win for Kansans and a great sign that direct democracy is the *best* way for voters to protect our reproductive freedoms,” said Reproductive Freedom for All, a coalition of abortion access activists who put forward the Michigan ballot measure. He said in a series of tweets Late Tuesday. The team celebrated the finish in Kansas “Setting the stage We need more success from our repro measures at the ballot box this November.

Meanwhile, voters in Kentucky and Montana will consider new abortion restrictions.

Kentucky Ballot Action State constitutions do not guarantee the right to an abortion or make it clear that abortions do not require government funding. The Montana size Doctors are required to provide life-saving treatment to babies “born alive” after an attempted abortion.

Beyond states that put abortion measures on the ballot, Democrats have signaled that they will intensify their focus on the issue in the coming months across the country and take the fight directly to Republicans.

“Theirs is a very unpopular position that will backfire in battleground House districts,” said Helen Galla, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “We look forward to reminding voters. Republicans’ toxic agenda every day until November.

John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report

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