Since the United States Supreme Court struck down the famous Roe v. Wade ruling in June, thus eliminating the constitutional protection of the right to abortion in the country, ten states have enforced the ban within their borders. Another six have placed restrictions and at least eight plan to do so soon.
They are in their entirety red states (of republican tradition), such as Texas, Oklahoma or Louisiana, which embraced the Supreme Court resolution, one of the most conservative and radical in recent years, as soon as it came to light.
This Tuesday, however, a conservative state has become against all odds a benchmark in the fight for the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy. This is the state of Kansas, where the citizens have voted in favor to maintain the protection of the right to abortion -as established by the State Constitution- in a referendum held together with the primaries.
So with a 58% vs. 41% and a historic turnout (according to local counts), voters have rejected the measure proposed by Republican lawmakers, who dominate Congress and the Senate, to change the legislation.
It is not the first time that federal governors try to crush regulations that allow abortion in Kansas. They already tried it in 2013 and 2015, and achieved a relative victory: they managed to make the interruption of pregnancy in the second trimester of pregnancy illegal.
[El legado jurídico de Trump restringe el aborto en EEUU y arriesga la vida de miles de mujeres al año]
However, in 2019, the Supreme Court annulled this measure. It ruled that the section of the state Constitution where “equal and inalienable natural rights” are collected includes “the ability to control one’s own body” and, therefore, protects the right to abortion.
With that error, the judicial power it made it difficult for prohibitionists to activate any legislative machinery to restrict the right to abortion without first changing the Constitution. And maintaining that condition is precisely what the citizens of Kansas have voted for in these elections.
Voters vs Governors
in the post era Roe vs. Wadethe states are immersed in a legal dispute between those who want to protect this right and those who want to end it. That is why the Kansas referendum, the first to be held on abortion, has set a precedent: it has been the voters (and not the rulers) who have made the decision.
And it is that despite having a Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, the conservative party is the one that controls key offices, such as the attorney general or the secretary of state. In addition, the conservative tradition is so ingrained in the region that, in the last two elections, Donald Trump won 56% of the ballots in this state.
Along the same lines, at least big four states plan take the future of abortion law to the polls. It is the case of Vermont, Snowfall either Californiawhere voters will have to decide next fall whether or not the state Constitution should add an amendment to protect the right to terminate pregnancy.
In addition, the referendum opens the door for both those in favor and those against to collect signatures and get the decision to go to the polls. They are already doing it in states like Michigan and Montana. Mind you, presenting abortion proposals directly to voters is a relatively new political battleso it is impossible to predict what the results will be.
[Niegan el aborto en Ohio a una niña de 10 años que fue violada: tuvo que viajar a otro estado]
A shelter for abortion
Following popular vote, Kansas has become a kind of refuge for those millions of women who have lost or will lose access to this medical practice in their states.
Especially for those who live in the Midwest (in the center-north of the country), a region where it could soon be almost impossible to have an abortion. Shortly after the Supreme Court withdrew protection of this right, most of the states bordering Kansas tried to ban abortion. Some, like Missouri and Oklahoma, did so almost immediately, while Nebraska he is on his way to achieving it.
In recent months, Kansas has received patients from border states that prohibit abortion
Thus, Kansas will continue, as it has done in recent months, receiving patients from other states where the voluntary interruption of pregnancy is prohibited or restricted. And everything indicates that they will continue to arrive in the coming months.
US President Joe Biden announced this Wednesday that will sign an executive order for the Department of Health and Human Services to allow the use of Medicaid funds (the federal and state insurance program) to support low-income women who are forced to travel out of state to receive this medical intervention.
A month ago, Biden already asked the same department to expand access to medical abortion and to insure women who travel. However, the Hyde Amendmentpassed by Congress, prevents Medicaid from paying for an abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
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