Next week, Kansas voters will become the first in the nation to vote on a purposefully confusing, abortion-related ballot measure post-Roe v. Wade that has the potential to decimate abortion access across the Midwest. And as it turns out, the measure (which entails changing the state constitution to eliminate an existing, guaranteed right to abortion) is somehow even worse, or rather, even dumber, than previously believed—a photo of the measure on the ballot shows it literally misspells the word “pregnancy”:
“Pregnancy,” as you can see, is spelled as “pregnacy.” “Circumstances” appears misspelled, too. What even happened here?? Is the anti-abortion movement in Kansas so confident and emboldened without Roe that they don’t even feel compelled to use a spell checker? While the ballot measure doesn’t contain spelling errors on the secretary of state’s website, the Kansas voter who shared the above photo says it’s from an advanced ballot in Kansas’ Sedgwick County.
Of course, even the text that is spelled correctly is just as stupid: “Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion,” it begins. The ballot measure is, after all, called “Value Them Both,” and I honestly have to laugh at how hard anti-abortion activists are trying to push this “pro-life feminism” bit. If you’re attempting to wield state power to subject women and pregnant people to the trauma of forced pregnancy and birth, you don’t “value women.”
This recently surfaced spelling error isn’t even the Value Them Both campaign’s only screw-up. For weeks, the campaign posed as moderate and “reasonable,” publicly denying it would use the ballot measure to eventually ban abortion. Then, earlier this month, a state senator at a rally for the measure unabashedly promised that, if the measure won, he would move to ban abortion “with my goal of life starting at conception.” This is actually, somehow, even worse than any old abortion ban—as Guttmacher Institute and National Advocates for Pregnant Women have previously explained to Jezebel, “life begins at conception” language establishes fetal personhood. As a result, women and pregnant people become secondary to fetuses, while miscarriage, abortion, even IVF, and some birth control can be treated as homicide.
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But, sure! The Value Them Both campaign—which will inevitably lead to an entire region left without abortion care, and a “life begins at conception” ban that could put abortion patients and providers in jail—is about “valuing both women and children.”
As the Trust Women clinic in Kansas told Jezebel last week, if the ballot measure successfully ends the right to abortion in the state, nationwide abortion access could plunge into chaos. Since Texas’ near-total abortion ban S.B. 8, before Roe was overturned, Trust Women in Kansas has already “become a majority out-of-state provider,” primarily serving traveling patients. Immediately after Roe was overturned, three out of four of Kansas’ neighboring states—Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Missouri—all immediately banned or moved to ban abortion, and it’s estimated that Kansas could see a “quadrupling” of abortion patients. Dr. Christina Bourne, the medical director of Trust Women, recounted how the day Roe was overturned last month, “people in Mississippi and Louisiana were literally calling us from the waiting rooms of abortion clinics there, saying their appointment had just been canceled and could we fit them in.”
Recent polling shows the race is unnervingly close, with 47 percent support for “yes” to end state abortion rights, compared with 43 percent for “no.” Nonetheless, Kansans for Constitutional Freedom—the coalition supporting abortion rights—has raised $6.5 million compared to Value Them Both’s $4.7 million. Ninety-four percent of Kansas Democratic voters compared to 78 percent of Republicans say the ballot measure has “increased the importance of voting in this upcoming election.” Experts are calling the race a potential bellwether for the slew of upcoming abortion-related ballot measures to either expand or scale back abortion rights in California, Vermont, Kentucky, and Montana in the coming months.