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How the Kansas Abortion Vote Offers Lessons for Economic Justice

August 14, 2022

The following is an excerpt of an article that was originally published on ZNet.

Click here to read the full article.

Using ballot measures and careful, nonpartisan messaging that appeals to fairness, progressives can achieve victories on economic justice and expanded health care access.

By Sonali Kolhatkar

Progressive activists and organizers are eyeing lessons from the resounding victory for abortion access in Kansas where nearly 60 percent of voters recently defeated a ban on the politicized medical procedure. Now, the Fairness Project hopes that state-by-state ballot measures can restore the reproductive right to an abortion that the Supreme Court stripped away earlier this year. Such measures can also achieve economic justice victories like increasing the minimum wage and expanding access to paid sick and family leave.

At a time when the GOP has political control of a majority of state legislatures and has imposed its preference for strict control of uteruses and lax control of firearms, low wages for the poor and low taxes for the rich, the ballot measure process may be a powerful direct-democracy solution.

Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, says that “Kansas is a classic example of the large distance between where the voters and the electorate are, and increasingly where their more extremist legislators are.” It was conservative legislators who placed the abortion ban on the ballot in Kansas—not anti-abortion activists—thinking they could solidify in their state the federal anti-abortion victory won at the Supreme Court in the Dobbs decision. Kansas voters proved them wrong.

“What happened in Kansas could be mirror-replicated in states around the country,” says Hall. Indeed, reproductive justice activists in Michigan are hoping to repeat the success of the Kansas vote. They have gone on the offensive and put a ballot measure to voters in order to enshrine abortion access in their state before a trigger law banning abortion can take effect. Advocates of the measure are counting on voters’ common sense prevailing over legislators’ political theater.

Read more at ZNet.

Sonali Kolhatkar is the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute.

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