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Why Kansas is a bellwether for abortion rights

On Tuesday, Kansas voters will decide whether to end the state’s constitutional right to an abortion. A “yes’ vote overturns Kansas”s constitutional protection for abortion, a “no” vote keeps those protections in place. If the ballot measure passes, it would allow the Republican legislature to pass laws banning abortion. This fight is the first of its kind post-Roe v. Wade, and analysts say it could go either way. It's a bellwether for whether ballot measures will help protect — or end — abortion rights across the country, when the question is taken directly to voters. The ballot initiative doesn’t say when abortion should be banned in Kansas, and leaders of the initiative have avoided commenting on what kinds of restrictions they’d support.

Most of the states bordering Kansas have either tried to ban abortion, or succeeded. If this ballot initiative passes, it could soon be nearly impossible to get an abortion in the region. The post-Roe world has created a tangle of abortion laws and court fights that sometimes mean abortion restrictions change by the day. This year, at least four other states are planning to have ballot initiatives protecting abortion rights. National polls show that a majority of Americans want abortion protections and think total bans go too far, according to a new poll. But putting abortion laws directly to voters is a relatively new political battle, so no one’s really sure how it will turn out.