Kansas was the first state in the nation to hold a referendum on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Kansas protects the right to abortion in its state constitution. A “yes” vote would have repealed that protection and enabled the GOP majority in the legislature to write new restrictions or to ban abortion altogether. A “no” vote would protect the abortion language in the state constitution.

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the state constitution protected abortion rights. Anti-abortion activists hoped that this referendum would reverse the 2019 decision.

The judges in Kansas blocked the law on the basis of the state Constitution’s Bill of Rights, ruling that it “affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body.” This extends, they ruled, to the decision of whether to have an abortion.

Political commentators expected a close vote. Kansas is a conservative state, even though it has a Democratic Governor.

The vote was not close. The vote to preserve abortion rights in the state constitution was decisive. At last count, it was about 60%-40%.

Voters of both parties supported women’s right to bodily autonomy.

CNN commented:

Polls have consistently shown that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is broadly unpopular. A CNN poll released in late July found nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the Supreme Court decision, with even 55% of self-identified moderate or liberal Republicans saying they disapproved of the decision. But the results on Tuesday, the first electoral test of abortion rights after the Supreme Court decision, put an even finer point on that sentiment.

One can only imagine what would happen if abortion rights were put on the ballot in every red state, rather than left to the male-dominated state legislatures who would like to turn back the clock by at least 50 years and keep women barefoot and pregnant.