Kansas Abortion Vote Tests Political Energy in Post-Roe America – The New York Times

by | Jul 31, 2022 | Energy

OLATHE, Kan. — In the final days before Kansans decide whether to remove abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, the politically competitive Kansas City suburbs have become hotbeds of activism.In neighborhoods where yard signs often tout high school sports teams, dueling abortion-related messages now also dot front lawns. A cafe known for its chocolates and cheese pie has become a haven for abortion rights advocates and a source of ire for opponents. Signs have been stolen, a Catholic church was vandalized earlier this month and tension is palpable on the cusp of the first major vote on the abortion issue since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.“I’m really sad that that happened,” said Leslie Schmitz, 54, of Olathe, speaking of the abortion access landscape. “And mad. Sad and mad.”There may be no greater motivator in modern American politics than anger. And for months, Republican voters enraged by the Biden administration have been explosively energized about this year’s elections. Democrats, meanwhile, have confronted erosion with their base and significant challenges with independent voters.But interviews with more than 40 voters in populous Johnson County, Kan., this week show that after the fall of Roe, Republicans no longer have a monopoly on fury — especially in states where abortion rights are clearly on the ballot and particularly in the battleground suburbs.“I feel pretty strongly about this,” said Chris Price, 46, a political independent who said he voted for Mitt Romney for president in 2012 before backing Democrats when Donald J. Trump was on the ballot. “The candidates that would support an abortion ban, I would not be supporting at all. Period.”Asked if threats to abortion rights had affected how motivated she felt about engaging in the midterm elections this fall, Natalie Roberts-Wilner, a Democrat from Merriam, Kan., added, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Definitely.”On Tuesday, Kansans will vote on a constitutional amendment that, if it passes, could give the Republican-dominated Legislature the ability to push new abortion restrictions or to outlaw the procedure entirely. Nearby states including Missouri — which is separated from some competitive Kansas suburbs by State Line Road, a thoroughfare dotted with abortion-related yard signs — ha …

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