Abortion Rights Supporters May Wind Up Thanking Alito

Kansas result suggests court decision could lead to a national consensus in favor of access
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2022 1:39 PM CDT
Abortion Rights Supporters May End Up Thanking Alito
Calley Malloy, left, of Shawnee, Kan.; Cassie Woolworth, of Olathe, Kan.; and Dawn Rattan, right, of Shawnee, Kan., applaud during a primary watch party Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, in Overland Park, Kan.   (Tammy Ljungblad AP)/The Kansas City Star via AP)

(Newser) – The overwhelming support for abortion rights in Kansas is giving Democrats new wind in their sails ahead of the November midterms, which have looked bad for the party for a while, particularly given President Biden's approval ratings. The Kansas vote suggests strong national support for abortion rights—a focus of many Democratic candidates' campaigns—in the aftermath of Roe v. Wade, including in suburban and rural areas. As the New York Times puts it, "if abortion rights wins 59% support in Kansas, it's doing even better than that nationwide." More:

  • The vote "highlighted the increasingly stark divide" between voters and Republican state lawmakers, writes Gregory Krieg in an analysis at CNN. A recent CNN poll found 63% of respondents disapproved of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn abortion protections at the federal level, while a Times estimate suggests 65% of voters nationwide would reject measures to restrict abortion rights, "including in more than 40 of the 50 states."

  • If the Kansas vote is any indication, "political winds are now at the backs of abortion rights supporters," per the Times. But "the high turnout, especially among Democrats, confirms that abortion is not just some wedge issue of importance to political activists." Indeed, "the stakes of abortion policy have become high enough that it can drive a high midterm-like turnout on its own."

  • John Harris at Politico points out that in drafting the opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice Samuel Alito noted the states should decide the morality and legality of abortion. Given what the results in Kansas suggest, "Alito's long-term legacy may well be as the justice who facilitated a national consensus on behalf of abortion rights," writes Harris. "Quite unintentionally, today's hero of the 'pro-life' movement could end up being a giant of the 'pro-choice' movement."
  • California, Vermont, Kentucky, Montana, and likely Michigan will vote on abortion measures in November, per the Washington Post, which goes into specifics on each measure. But Democrats are putting the issue at the forefront outside of these states.

  • That could help them appeal to young voters, write Paul Waldman and Greg Sargent at the Post, who argue abortion and climate change are key issues for this group. "It's at least possible that young people will provide Democrats with the lift they need to stave off a midterm defeat, or at least to avert a catastrophe in which youth turnout falls off a cliff."
  • One GOP strategist tells the Post that the Kansas vote will "send a cold chill up the spines" of many Republicans. However, Michael McAdams, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, claims the "economic mess," rather than abortion, will be the "number one issue in every competitive House race." The control of Congress could also push more Republicans to the polls, per the Times.
(Read more abortion stories.)

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