OPINION: Back on the Ballot

The threat new Kansas GOP legislation holds to the abortion issue as a whole and the greater problems it symbolizes
OPINION: Back on the Ballot

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court officially overturned Roe V. Wade, the historic benchmark case that protected abortion rights in the United States for nearly half a century. 

Seven months before what would have been Roe’s 50th anniversary, I found myself in a cramped motel room with my immediate family on the coast of a state that would soon become one of the 16 states to vote to restrict or ban abortion within their borders. 

I went for a walk on the beach that night, trying to comprehend this ruling I saw as setting our nation back well over half a century. For me, it felt like I was watching the progress women had fought for and made crumble before my eyes. All in the power of one single decision, I felt threatened and scared. Not just for myself and other individuals, but for the greater cause. 

Like the sand on the beach that night, this too was swept out by the tide of relief and renewed confidence I felt when Kansas became the first state, followed by many, to take to the polls to show their support for a nation that maintained freedom of choice and bodily autonomy. 

Since then, however, Kansas has also shown its vulnerability to potentially threatening legislation, and the willingness of some politicians to backslide on the popular vote, although the Kansas state turnout for the 2022 primary (where abortion was on the ballot) was the largest turnout in the history of the state. 

During the first legislative session this year, Kansas GOP lawmakers introduced House Bill 2492, yet another piece of legislation, following a failed bill in 2023, proposing a near-total ban on clinical and pharmaceutically induced abortions. 

This bill, facing the power of veto by Dem. Governor Laura Kelly and a lack of override majority in the state house or senate will face a near zero chance of passing. However, where the threat lies with bills such as the latter is in their “messaging” intent.

They are used to signal to a political base support and alliance, at the cost of overriding a popular majority and at the compromise of politicizing bodies for political gain. 

The message this sends as a whole is scary. It’s the same threat I felt almost three years ago with the initial SCOTUS decision, not because of the personal stances and alignments people hold on abortion as a whole, but because of the political motives and stances politicians are willing to hold at the cost of public interest, and in the case of Kansas, the public vote. 

While political actions involving the abortion issue in the nation as a whole are at a concerning juncture today, it is important to realize the power many Americans across the country have shown in their stance to maintain abortion rights in a majority of state constitutions. Action can, and must, be done. 

When I first heard of the SCOTUS decision, I felt the weight of the issue settle onto my shoulders. I felt concern for the threat posed to women’s bodily autonomy, but I also felt the threat of my lack of power to the situation; being a minor and unable to vote, but also being a part of a key demographic due to both age and gender that would be impacted by this decision.  

However, since then that has changed. I have recognized that, despite my inability to vote, larger numbers of Americans than I ever expected have flocked to the polls to make their voices heard, and that in countless other ways, people across the nation have shown support. From protests and activism to contacting and pressuring local and state legislators to support these key issues, every one of us can make an impact. 

Politics shifted to open the floodgates for the overturn of Roe, and for the subsequent state-level policy we are seeing to this day. However, that political system can and will shift again, and while nothing justifies the politicization of bodies or the stripping of basic human rights to self-govern our bodies, the stance of Kansans as well as many others across the nation has been made clear.

Though I hope for a day when Roe is re-codified into the constitution of our nation, I hope more that until that time voters, activists, and change-makers across the country never lose sight of the power of the people, and continue to show up to push for the change we wish to see.

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About the Contributor
Simon Williams
Simon Williams, Online Managing Editor
Simon Williams is a junior at Free State and a reporter on staff. In school, she is apart of LINK Crew, NHS, and Speech and Debate where she serves on the NSDA Leadership Board. Outside of school, Simon enjoys volunteering, nature, outdoor activities, fashion, and travel.
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