Pro-life Groups Blame Kansas Amendment Loss on 'Abortion Industry' Campaign

Kansas voters last week became the first in the nation to weigh in on abortion access following the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

On August 2, Kansas voters resoundingly defeated a proposed amendment to the state constitution 59% to 41% that would have removed the right to an abortion and would have allowed state lawmakers to pass further restrictions in the future. The vote came as both a shock and a disappointment to pro-life leaders, who blamed misinformation spread by pro-abortion groups for the defeat of the referendum.

"Sadly, thousands and thousands of babies will die in Kansas," president of the National Right to Life Committee Carol Tobias said in a statement released after the primary results.

The referendum, referred to as the Value Them Both Amendment, was backed by several pro-life advocacy groups including the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the nation's oldest pro-life organization. A representative from the NRLC told Newsweek that the organization was in constant contact with its affiliates in Kansas during campaigning for the amendment, and that the group plans on continuing to be involved in campaigns before the November elections.

When asked about how the NRLC may adapt its campaign strategy for the midterms, the organization said it plans to keep a closer eye on the narrative spread by pro-choice groups.

"We are much more aware of the effect of the pro-abortion distortions and misinformation that helped the abortion industry win the Kansas referendum," the NRLC said in a statement to Newsweek, "including the misinformation that pro-life legislation would prevent treatment of miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies or measures to save a woman's life."

"All of those assertions by the abortion lobby are false," the NRLC added.

Pro-choice Kansans Celebrate Primary Results
Pro-choice supporters celebrate the failed Value Them Both Amendment as they watch the state's primary results during the Kansas for Constitutional Freedom's primary election watch party in Overland Park, Kansas, on August 2. Dave Kaup/AFP/Getty Images

Other pro-life groups, such as the Value Them Both Coalition, released a statement following the primary election as well, reiterating that "over the last six months, Kansans endured an onslaught of misinformation from radical left organizations that spent millions of out-of-state dollars to spread lies about the Value Them Both Amendment."

"Sadly, the mainstream media propelled the left's false narrative, contributing to the confusion that misled Kansans about the amendment," the statement read.

The Value Them Both Amendment proposed that state representatives would be allowed to pass laws regarding abortion "including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstance of necessity to save the life of the mother."

The NRLC told Newsweek that the organization does not support pro-life legislation that would prevent life-saving measures for the mother or treatment for ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages.

Pro-choice organizations who campaigned against the amendment, such as the Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, claimed on their campaign website that the language for the Value Them Both Amendment was purposefully confusing for voters, and that a vote in favor of the referendum would give lawmakers the chance to ban abortions without exceptions such as in cases involving rape or incest.

In a tweet following the results of the Kansas primaries, Kansas for Constitutional Freedom congratulated voters for blocking the "dangerous anti-abortion constitutional amendment."

"This is truly a historic day for Kansas and for America," read the tweet. "Freedom has prevailed."

Political observers are taking the Kansas primary results as a sign that abortion may be a winning issue for Democrats in the midterm elections. Donald Trump topped Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election by 15 points in Kansas, where less than two years later a pro-life amendment was defeated by 18 points.

According to daily polling by Civiqs, an online polling company, independent voters — who make up 41% of the American electorate according to Gallup — are increasingly supporting legal abortion in all cases, jumping from 25% at the end of August 2021 to 30% as of Monday.

In Kansas, voters have also increased their support for abortion, from 21% supporting legal abortion in all cases in August 2021 to 26% as of Monday, according to Civiqs' polls.

When asked if the Kansas primary results point toward a shift in Americans opinion on abortion across party lines, the NRLC said that striking down the referendum will result in "totally unrestricted and unlimited abortion up until birth."

"This is not the majority opinion of Americans," the NRLC said.

According to Civiqs, 33% of Americans support abortion in all cases as of Wednesday, the winning category out of the voters polled.

The vote against the Value Them Both Amendment did not change current state restrictions on abortion in Kansas, where the procedure is currently banned after 22 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Guttmacher Institute.