First statewide abortion vote after Roe is leaning pro-life, Kansas poll shows

March for Life best signs Mary St. Hilaire, of Wichita, Kansas (left), and Kristina Massa, 22, of Lincoln, Nebraska, at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21, 2022. | Katie Yoder/CNA

A new poll shows that a pro-life amendment on the ballot in Kansas is enjoying a narrow lead. The August 2 referendum represents the first major statewide vote on abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The survey, conducted by co/efficient and shared by FiveThirtyEight, found that 47% of likely primary voters in Kansas say they plan to vote for the pro-life amendment, 43% say they plan to vote against it, and 10% are undecided.

The amendment needs a simple majority of 51% to pass.

The poll surveyed 1,557 likely Kansas primary voters from July 17-18 through mobile text response and automated landline interviews. It has a margin of error of +/- 2.78%.

Kansas citizens will vote on the pro-life amendment, also known as the “Value Them Both” amendment, during their state’s primary election. The amendment would reverse the Kansas Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that the state’s constitution protects a woman’s “right” to abortion. 

Currently, state lawmakers are, in most cases, prohibited from passing any type of abortion restriction. The amendment, if approved by voters, would enable state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate or restrict abortion.

The vote will have broad implications that extend past Kansas’ borders. It could indicate how other states will vote on abortion after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson — which overturned Roe and left abortion policy up to the states — and suggest where Americans stand on abortion ahead of the midterm elections in November.

It could also determine whether Kansas serves as an abortion hub for women in neighboring states that restrict abortion. 

Mackenzie Haddix, the deputy communications director for the Value Them Both Coalition, applauded the poll’s findings. The coalition in support of the amendment is led by Kansans for Life, the Kansas Catholic Conference, and Kansas Family Voice.

“We’re encouraged because we know Kansans do not support the radical pro-abortion agenda of the left,” Haddix told CNA. “These poll results are further evidence that voters reject a future that includes a 1,000% increase in abortions paid for with our tax dollars and understand Value Them Both must be passed to avoid this increase.”

According to the Guttmacher Institute, abortions could increase by more than 1,000% in Kansas as neighboring states restrict the procedure, the Kansas City Star previously reported.  

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, the former chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee, also responded positively to the findings.

“I am encouraged that according to the poll more Kansans support the passage of Value Them Both than oppose it, despite the avalanche of deceptive advertising funded by the abortion industry that attempts to confuse voters,” he told CNA. “This is a tribute to the prayers and hard work of the many dedicated Value Them Both volunteers.”  

The new poll breaks down the results by political party and finds that, of Republican likely primary voters in Kansas, 68% plan to vote yes to the amendment, 18% plan to vote no, and 14% are undecided. Of Democrats, 10% plan to vote yes, 86% plan to vote no, and 4% are undecided.

Kansas likely voters also chose which statements best reflected their understanding of the amendment. Thirty-one percent said it will allow Kansas to ban abortion, 30% said it clarifies that there is no right to an abortion in the Kansas Constitution, and 31% said it protects women's healthcare by ensuring that the state can create guidelines for abortion.

Ryan Munce, president of co/efficient, explained the reasoning behind the three options.

“After reviewing the messaging and narratives of the media and campaigns both for and against the amendment, we came up with those three ‘buckets’ of interpretation,” Munce told CNA. “We thought that would give us a good read of how the messaging is working, and how perception is being shaped about the amendment.”

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He called it “certainly surprising” that the data came back with all three statements receiving an almost identical share of the electorate.

“Democrats are three times as likely to believe that the amendment is intended to create an outright ban on abortion in the state, than Republicans,” he pointed out. “While a strong majority of Republicans interpret the amendment in a different way.”

Haddix said of the various options: “I would just reiterate that the amendment is not a ban on abortion, but rather allows us to restore commonsense limits on the abortion industry that Kansans already agree on.”

As the spokesperson for the coalition working to oppose the amendment, Ashley All of Kansans for Constitutional Freedom accused the amendment’s supporters of wanting to “ultimately ban abortion completely with no exceptions.”

She responded to CNA about the poll’s findings by predicting a “close race.” She regretted that the vote will take place during the primary election instead of the general election in November, claiming that the amendment’s backers “hope fewer Kansans vote.” 

Of the likely voters, 86% said they were familiar with the "Value Them Both" constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot August 2. Only 7% said they were not.

A large majority (84%) said that the amendment increased the importance of voting in this upcoming election, including 78% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats.

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Naumann stressed to CNA that “the only poll that really matters is the decision of Kansas voters from now to August 2nd.”   

“I encourage every Pro-Life Kansan from every corner of the State to vote YES in favor of the Value Them Both Amendment,” he said. “The fate of Value Them Both will be decided by those who show up on election day.”

Kansas voters on abortion and Roe v. Wade

Of likely Kansas primary voters, the co/efficient poll found that 49% agreed with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, while 46% disagreed.

A plurality of Kansas voters (33%) said that there should be no government restrictions on abortion, while 9% said abortion should be banned under any circumstance.

In the middle, 24% said abortion should only be allowed in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, while 14% said non-medically necessary abortion in Kansas should be legal but not past viability of the fetus. Ten percent said abortion should only be legal to save the life of the mother. And 7% said non-medically necessary abortion in Kansas should be legal but not after a heartbeat is detected.

Editor's note: This story was updated on July 22 to reflect co/efficient's adjusted poll numbers regarding likely Kansas primary voters' positions on abortion.