You’ve probably heard the news. Kansas voters failed to pass a pro-life amendment to its State Constitution. This action was required because Kansas’ Supreme Court had declared that a right to an abortion existed in the Kansas State Constitution. So, the question was put to the Kansas voters last Tuesday, and unfortunately, the majority of Kansas voters agreed that the right to an abortion should be constitutionally recognized by the state.
There is no denying that this is a defeat for the pro-life movement around the country. While Kansas is not exactly a flagship pro-life state, it has largely leaned Republican for the past few decades. It is certainly discouraging for a state like Kansas to suddenly turn and overwhelmingly defeat a pro-life measure. In the words of Carroll Conley, “The defeat of this effort is evidence that we haven’t yet reached the promised land.”
But it also highlights something that we have repeated ever since the Dobbs v. Jackson decision was leaked last March: we still have more work to do. Those who opposed slavery and supported civil rights for women and African Americans faced huge obstacles and setbacks on the road to success. Why should it be any different here?
Especially in a relatively progressive state like Maine, our legislative strategy must be incremental while we continue to educate Mainers and build up already-existing alternatives to abortion. Neither of these are hard to do. The more a person thinks about an unborn child, the more difficult it is to avoid believing in that child’s humanity. Helping out local pregnancy centers and adoption agencies is as simple as finding your local pregnancy center and sending them a donation or offering to volunteer.
At the same time, there are a lot of reasons to think that the Kansas vote is not as bad as it sounds. Yes, it was a disappointment. But in the words of conservative Kansan Ramesh Ponnuru, “If we held national referenda... on abolishing Roe… [it] would almost certainly have lost in most states. Pro-lifers by and large understood that the polls in favor of Roe didn’t mean Americans were deeply committed to an abortion regime as expansive as the one Roe actually entailed.” In other words, the failure of a pro-life amendment does not mean Americans are pro-abortion. It just means that many lack a proper understanding of what a pro-life amendment entails.
Charlie Camosy summarizes this well: "Now Kansas will become a bastion of abortion extremism, including welcoming abortion tourism from other states. Virtually no resident wants that. Furthermore, didn't Louisiana just pass a similar measure, 61 percent to 38 percent? This all seems strange, however… [money] played a huge role: Once Dobbs fell, our most motivated (and well paid) opponents sprung… planting deeply sympathetic (if misleading and even false) stories about women whose lives would be put at risk by laws protecting prenatal justice.” In other words, horror stories that had little to do with the Kansan referendum were spread, and “pro-lifers were caught flat-footed.” The solution, Camosy says, is to spread the truth, and to be abundantly clear about what the laws we support do. If people know that a pro-life bill protects the life of the mother, they will know that the progressive left is lying when they say otherwise.
In the meantime, we will continue to work as hard we can towards meaningful protections for the unborn. In Maine, this means electing pro-life legislators. If you want to help in our efforts to support pro-life candidates by distributing voter guides and getting out the vote, please consider donating to our Pews to the Polls Campaign. Every donation is a step towards more protections for the unborn.