Pro-life Americans may be discouraged after the defeat of the proposed Value Them Both amendment in Kansas on Tuesday. Ramesh Ponnuru, a native Kansan and senior editor of “National Review,” wrote a column putting the defeat in perspective and encouraging pro-lifers to continue the fight.
“The lopsided result in the referendum is an illustration of first-mover advantage. Kansas (where I grew up) is by no means a pro-life state, but it would probably never have adopted a sweeping abortion-protective constitutional amendment by popular vote. Once the state’s high court effectively amended the state constitution by itself, though, dislodging its mini-Roe by referendum became — as the result suggests – impossible.
“That it didn’t work really shouldn’t be surprising. If we held national referenda, one on abolishing Roe in favor of some policy regime TBD, would almost certainly have lost in most states. Pro-lifers by and large understood that the polls in favor of Roe didn’t mean Americans were deeply committed to an abortion regime as expansive as the one Roe actually entailed.
“So here. The result is bad news, but supporters of the abortion license are giddily overreading it. The instant line is that the result shows that a backlash to Dobbs will be powerful this November. And it’s true that the referendum appears to have driven turnout in the state. This suggests to me a few potential advantages for pro-abortion Democrats this fall. They can do very well in places where a pro-life referendum is on the ballot, especially one that can be presented as effectively banning abortion without exceptions for pregnancies that result in rape; and maybe also in some places where legislators are on the verge of enacting such bans (or can be presented as being on the verge of it).
“Will they be as successful in turning out their vote in the many places where those conditions are not present? Tuesday night’s result in Kansas will yield Democratic confidence about the answer to that question. It could turn out to be overconfidence. And even in Kansas, I think pro-lifers ought to come back in a few years with another ballot initiative, this one establishing a gestational limit on abortion: at fifteen weeks, for example. There is no reason pro-lifers should take this deeply disappointing vote as the last word anywhere.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice