Rep. Women in Kansas Vote For Abortion Rights
A few thoughts on Kansas.
People showed up to vote — a LOT of them. It was the largest turnout for a primary election in Kansas history. They showed up in the dog days of August, despite the wildly confusing ballot language with the twisted logic of voting no to preserve rights, in spite of gerrymandering and misleading robo calls.
We wouldn’t have won on Tuesday without Republicans voting “no.” Steve Kornacki of MSNBC estimates that Republicans made up 20% of the votes against the ballot initiative. This was across the board, not just in the urban areas, but in rural areas, too. For instance, in rural Chase County, 527 of 1,093 voters opted against the bill.
Despite our 24-hour-news-cycle that insists we immediately pretend to know exactly why this happened, we aren’t going to know what worked and what didn’t for a while. Or maybe we’ll never know. Was it this Twitter ad? Or this Instagram post from Janelle Monae? Or all of the door knocking and phone calls? The postcards? The Dobbs decision alone? The fantastic, going-on-offense framing of abortion rights as a fundamental freedom under attack from overreaching politicians?
Maybe it was all of them.
Or maybe it was none of them, and decent people were just disgusted and appalled that a 10-year-old was being forced by her home state of Ohio to have her rapist’s baby and had to flee to Indiana where her doctor, Dr. Caitlin Bernard, was persecuted for doing her job.
I am going to take one educated guess about what happened. And that is a big chunk of the Republican votes to protect abortion rights came from women. Women made up 70% of the newly registered voters in Kansas since the Dobbs decision – and they weren’t all Democrats.
It wasn’t that long ago when pro-choice Republican women not just existed, but were a force. You can read about the loss of that power over the last two decades here. When I joined the national board of NARAL, there were several Republican pro-choice women on it. After 2016, they all became Independents. Our country needs two democratic political parties dedicated to the well-being of the majority of the country.
My starting point for community organizing is the belief that when people are good and decent and kind, good things can happen. With this as my organizing principle, I can let people in instead of keeping them out. I can offer opportunities to participate with them and co-create something better than I could do alone. Republican women have abortions just like Democratic women. They understand the ramifications of forced pregnancies. Our job is to invite them into our community and treat them with respect rather than disdain. They don’t have to march down the street wearing a t-shirt with a uterus on it. They need to vote, just like they did in Kansas.
August rest. I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. I am so glad to have a chance to rest and restore before the fall campaign season, and I appreciate that not everyone has this chance. Please take care of yourself any way you can, this is going to be a long fight.