Democrats including Joe Biden hailed the outcome of an abortion rights ballot question in Kansas, after a majority voted to protect the right in the state constitution.
In a statement, the president said: “Voters in Kansas turned out in record numbers to reject extreme efforts to amend the state constitution to take away a woman’s right to choose and open the door for a statewide ban.
“This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own healthcare decisions.”
The Kansas vote was the first time abortion rights had been on the ballot since the conservative-dominated supreme court overturned Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling which guaranteed the right, in June.
A yes vote would have allowed the conservative Kansas legislature to restrict abortion or ban it completely.
Other senior Democrats celebrated the Kansas vote as a testament to the desire for abortion rights nationwide, even in Republican-held states.
The Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted: “This is huge: abortion rights were on the ballot for the first time since Roe, and the people of Kansas voted to preserve access. I’m grateful down to my toes for everyone who helped stop this dangerous ballot measure in its tracks.”
The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Jaime Harrison, tweeted a congratulatory message – but did not mention the abortion referendum.
“While the GOP is pushing their ultra-MAGA agenda, Dems are nominating candidates who will work to cut costs and protect our freedoms,” he wrote.
To many Democrats and analysts, the Kansas vote suggested that an emphasis on abortion rights could pave the way to success in the November midterms.
The referendum question brought out a surge of new voters, with more than 800,000 people turning out, up on the 470,000 who participated in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, Insider reported.
Republicans who celebrated the supreme court ruling on abortion rights have since rushed to pass state abortion bans.
But the Kansas vote presents an unexpected challenge for Republicans seeking to galvanize the issue for support in November. Even in more conservative states, voters largely support abortion rights.
“Kansans bluntly rejected anti-abortion politicians’ attempts at creating a reproductive police state,” Kimberly Inez McGuire, executive director of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, told the Associated Press.
“Today’s vote was a powerful rebuke and a promise of the mounting resistance.”