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Abortion rights under scrutiny in Kansas

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In the streets of Leawood, a prosperous city in Kansas, numerous electoral banners adorn the gardens: this Midwestern state is preparing to the first major vote on abortion ever since the US Supreme Court struck down the federal right to terminate pregnancy.

Kansas residents will vote on Tuesday to decide whether or not to remove the right to abortion from the Constitution of this traditionally conservative state.

Those who want the change – supporters of “yes” – affirm that it would allow legislators to regulate the legal interruption of pregnancy without interference from the justice system.

“This simply restores our ability to converse,” says Mackenzie Haddix, a spokeswoman for the “Value Them Both” movement, an entity seeking to end constitutional protections stemming from a 2019 decision by the Supreme Court of this state.

“Kansasians will then be able to come together … to reach a consensus,” he told AFP on Saturday morning at an event.

Banning abortion is not the official goal of this entity’s campaign.

Several “yes” supporters see this position as the first step for the Republican-controlled state parliament to ban this practice, as eight states across the country have already done since the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn its ruling. 1973 case history of Roe v. Wade.

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“Decisions about our body”

The “no” supporters are eyeing with anxiety the neighboring states of Missouri and Oklahoma that have imposed almost total restrictions: the former even prohibits abortion in cases of rape or incest.

In Kansas, a local conservative congressman introduced a bill this year that contemplates banning abortion without exception, whether for rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

So far abortion is legal in Kansas up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Minors need permission from their parents.

“Ultimately, the amendment takes away this right to personal autonomy that all Kansans benefit from!” Ashley All, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Constitutional Freedom “no” campaign, told AFP. (KCF).

“And that we are able to make decisions about our bodies, our families, our future without interference from the government is a right.”

The vote coincides with the Texas primary and will be the first time Americans have spoken out on abortion after the Supreme Court decision.

Other states, including California and Kentucky, will vote on the issue in November, alongside the midterm congressional elections, during which Republicans and Democrats hope to rally their supporters around abortion.

Anne Melia, a volunteer with the KCF abortion rights campaign, toured Leawood on Thursday to champion her cause.

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“I don’t think the government should tell women what to do,” the 59-year-old activist explained.

life from conception

Christine Vasquez, 43, says she plans to vote “yes” in hopes of being able to decide on abortion in the future.

“I will vote because there is no abortion, I think that life begins from conception,” he told AFP.

In the midst of the abortion debate, the country will have its eyes riveted on Kansas on Tuesday.

Democrats are largely in favor of abortion, while conservatives are in favor of hindering, if not prohibiting, the practice.

But the political reality of Kansas is complex. The Republican Party has won uninterruptedly since 1964 in the presidential elections, 15 elections in a row.

But the state’s most populous county elected a Democrat, Sharice Davids, to the House of Representatives in 2018; and the governor, Laura Kelly, is a Democrat.

As for views on abortion, a 2021 Fort Hays State University survey found that less than 20% of Kansas citizens believe that abortion should be illegal in cases of rape or incest.

Half believe that the state should not legislate on the circumstances in which women can have abortions.

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