Lines of Kansas voters, resolute in the August sun and 100-degree heat, stretched beyond the doors of polling sites and wrapped around buildings on Tuesday to cast ballots in a primary election. A few suffered heat exhaustion. Firefighters passed out bottles of water.
When polls closed at 7 p.m. Central time, many were still in line and legally entitled to get their turn. The Wichita Eagle reported that one Wichita woman cast the final vote at her polling site at 9:45 p.m. after waiting in line for nearly three hours. Poll workers, understaffed amid the likely record turnout, worked brutally long hours for democracy.
This inspired showing responded to a clear threat against reproductive rights. In the first state vote on abortion following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Kansans unequivocally batted down the Legislature’s proposed amendment to remove the right to an abortion from the State Constitution.
These citizens of the Plains put me in mind of the row of century-old cedar trees, planted close together so that their branches interlocked, that shielded my family’s small farm from powerful winds. As such “shelter belts” prevent soil erosion across the region, Kansas voters — underestimated by shocked liberals across the country — stood against the erosion of personal freedom.
Passage of the amendment would have made way for the conservative Legislature to further limit or completely ban abortion, threatening the health, bodily autonomy and survival of not just pregnant Kansans but pregnant people who travel to the state for otherwise inaccessible care. Neighboring Missouri and Oklahoma, as well as Texas and other nearby states, have banned or severely restricted abortion. A spokesman for Trust Women, an abortion clinic in Wichita, reported a 60 percent increase in out-of-state patients over the past year and a doubling of overall patient volume since last year. [Continue reading…]