Kansas on Tuesday is holding the nation's first test of voter feelings about the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, with people deciding whether to allow their conservative legislature to further restrict or ban abortion.
The referendum on the proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution is being closely watched as a barometer of liberal and moderate voters' anger over the June ruling overturning the nationwide right to abortion. But the outcome might not reflect broader sentiments about the issue in the country as a whole, given how conservative Kansas is and how twice as many Republicans as Democrats have voted in its August primaries over the past decade.
Supporters of the measure wouldn't say before the vote whether they intend to pursue a ban if it passes, but they've spent decades pushing for new restrictions on a nearly annual basis and many other states in the Midwest and South have banned abortion in recent weeks. By not stating their position, they were seeking to win over voters who favored some restrictions but not an outright ban.
Abortion rights advocates expect the legislature to ban abortion if the ballot measure passes, and the state saw a surge in early voting with an electorate more Democratic than usual.
The Kansas measure would add language to the state constitution saying that it doesn't grant a right to abortion, which would allow lawmakers to regulate it as they see fit.
The Kansas measure is a response to a state Supreme Court decision in 2019 declaring that access to abortion is a matter of bodily autonomy and a "fundamental" right under the state's Bill of Rights.
Both sides together have spent more than $14 million on their campaigns. Abortion providers and abortion rights groups were key donors for the "no" side, while Catholic dioceses heavily funded the "yes" campaign.
Kansas doesn't ban most abortions until the 22nd week of pregnancy. But a law that would prohibit the most common second-trimester procedure and another that would set special health regulations for abortion providers remain on hold because of legal challenges.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.