The State of Kansas, in the United States, decided in a referendum to protect abortion rights in a victory for so-called pro-choice groups, which are in favor of this right.
Most voters said they did not want to amend the state constitution to include a ban on abortion.
This was the first test at the polls on the abortion issue since the US Supreme Court overturned a 1973 ruling in June that legalized the practice nationwide.
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The Kansas referendum could allow the local legislature to restrict or ban abortion in the state.
Projections suggest that more than 60% of voters in the Kansas referendum voted in favor of the state’s constitutional right for women to have access to abortion.
The result will have a national impact, as the US prepares to hold parliamentary elections on November 8, in which the Democratic Party ? who is overwhelmingly in favor of abortion? struggle to maintain control of Congress.
US President Joe Biden said the result showed that “a majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion.”
One voter, Taylor Hirth, wept as she celebrated the result with her nine-year-old daughter at a party in the town of Overland Park.
“I’m a rape survivor, and just the thought of my daughter getting pregnant and not being able to do anything about it pisses me off,” she told the BBC.
“I never thought this would happen here, but we worked hard here to get the vote. The Republicans underestimated us.”
A sign of disaffected voters
When the Roe v Wade decision was overturned, President Biden said abortion rights would be an issue for voters. What happened in Kansas shows that this concern is real.
This is a state won by former Republican President Donald Trump by 15 percentage points just two years ago, in the 2020 election. But now the same electorate has voted to protect access to abortion in what is considered a landslide victory.
The current numbers are still just a projection. The official result will be confirmed within a week. But for Democrats and pro-choice groups, is this a sign that Americans are deeply dissatisfied with the overthrow of abortion rights? and they see the Supreme Court decision as out of step with public opinion.
Kansas officials said statewide voter turnout was significantly higher than expected on a primary polling day, when Republicans generally outnumber Democrats two to one. .
The month before the referendum vote was one of tension. A Catholic church and a statue of the Virgin Mary were vandalized with red paint and a pro-choice slogan.
On the eve of the vote, some voters received false news claiming that to protect the right to abortion it would be necessary to vote “yes”? but in fact the opposite is true. Tech company Twilio said it suspended the anonymous sender from its platform.
Although Kansas is largely conservative, its abortion regulations are less stringent than many other Republican-led states.
State law allows a pregnancy to be terminated for up to 22 weeks with other restrictions, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period and mandatory parental consent for children.
The Kansas legislature is controlled by anti-abortion Republicans, but its governor, Laura Kelly, is a Democrat. She had warned that changing the state constitution would put Kansas “back in the dark ages.”
More than a dozen Republican-led states have decided to ban or further restrict abortion since the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision.
But 10 US states, including Kansas, have abortion rights enshrined in their state constitutions. These rules can only be overturned through referendums.
Other states, such as California and Vermont, will hold votes in November seeking to increase abortion rights protections in their state constitutions.
– This text was originally published at https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-62404687
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