Both sides together have spent more than $14 million on their campaigns. Abortion providers and abortion rights groups were key donors for the “no” side, while Catholic dioceses heavily funded the “yes” campaign.
“I just feel like people have become so nonchalant about abortion, like it’s just another method of birth control,” said Michelle Mulford, a 50-year-old Kansas City-area teacher and Republican who voted early for the proposed amendment, adding that she supports exceptions to an abortion ban for cases of rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancies.
Even though some early voters favor banning nearly all abortions, the vote yes campaign pitched its measure as a way to restore lawmakers’ power to set “reasonable” abortion limits and preserve existing restrictions.
Kansas doesn’t ban most abortions until the 22nd week of pregnancy. But a law that would prohibit the most common second-trimester procedure and another that would set special health regulations for abortion providers remain on hold because of legal challenges.
Stan Ellsworth, a 69-year-old Republican retiree in the Kansas City area, said the argument that voting yes means an abortion ban is “crap.”
“I haven’t talked to a single person who wants that,” he said after voting yes early in the Kansas City suburbs. “Most will accept reasonable exceptions and I think the other side knows that’s true.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre weighed in on the Kansas vote Monday, saying: “If it passes, tomorrow’s vote in Kansas could lead to another state eliminating the right to choose and eviscerating access to health care.”
The Republican-controlled Legislature has had anti-abortion majorities since the early 1990s. Kansas hasn’t gone further in restricting abortion because abortion opponents have felt constrained either by past federal court decisions or because the governor was a Democrat, like Gov. Laura Kelly, who was elected in 2018.
Kelli Kolich, a 35-year-old Kansas City-area pizza restaurant operator and unaffiliated voter, said she voted no because she believes people have a fundamental right to make their own health care choices and expects a yes vote to “eliminate that right.”
“Women would not have the ability to determine the best choices for themselves,” she said after voting early, as she played with her 18-month-old son.
Stafford reported from Overland Park and Olathe.
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This article originally appeared on APNews.com.