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Kansas Man Offers His House, Dips Into Retirement Savings to Fund Abortion Vote Recount

Abortion foes claim without evidence that rampant voter fraud led to the landslide abortion rights victory, and they're staking their financial futures on it.

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Kansas Coalition for Life Chairman Mark Gietzen, on the left, offered to put up his home to fund the recount.
Kansas Coalition for Life Chairman Mark Gietzen, on the left, offered to put up his home to fund the recount.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, AP

It might be time to rethink conservatives’ reputation for fiscal responsibility. The Associated Press reported that abortion foes in Kansas charged nearly $120,000 on credit cards on Monday to try to fund a pointless recount of the recent state-wide vote that overwhelmingly favored abortion rights. This seems like a lot to charge on a credit card in this economy—I hear crudités are going for $20 these days. The recount will go nowhere, considering abortion rights supporters won by a nearly 20-point margin, but then again, abortion opponents might be on to something—think about the travel points!

State election officials approved a recount this week, on the condition that Kansas anti-abortion activist and election conspiracist Melissa Leavitt (who formally requested the recount) and her supporters pay the roughly $229,000 cost upfront, with a deadline set for 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Kansas Coalition for Life chairman Mark Gietzen “used a credit card to pay for all but $1,500 of the costs,” which Leavitt will cover herself. According to the Kansas Reflector, Gietzen offered to “put up his home to secure the bond required to order a statewide recount.” By the end of Monday, he’d “dipped into a retirement account to support the effort.”

As of Tuesday morning, Leavitt’s fundraiser for the recount has raised about $47,000. Mind you, these financial decisions are being made as we veer closer and closer toward a recession each day. Gietzen and Leavitt are apparently so sold on the idea that a recount will magically unearth over 165,000 uncounted ballots (aka more than 10% of ballots cast), they’re willing to stake their financial futures on it.

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Without a shred of evidence, Leavitt claims she’s “seen data...that there were irregularities” on election night. Gietzen told the AP, “The truth is, who knows who won the vote,” and lied that the election was marred by “massive” fraud through “ballot harvesting,” arguing people had illegally obtained and cast illegal ballots in drop boxes.

Of course, if anyone’s guilty of fraud, it’s the anti-abortion side that texted Kansas voters en masse that their measure would give women a “choice” and supported “women’s health” ahead of the election. They said they wouldn’t use the measure to totally ban abortion, despite privately vowing to do so. They also worded the measure as misleadingly as possible, and opted for it to be voted on during a primary election, which tends to attract less attention and lower turnout.

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However much right-wing conspiracy theorists like Leavitt and Gietzen may lie to themselves and their followers, the reality is that Kansas voters knew what was at stake and showed up. Since the fall of Roe—and even before, when Texas effectively banned abortion last September—Kansas has become the last abortion haven in the Great Plains region. Three of the four states bordering it have moved to ban abortion, quadrupling out-of-state abortion seekers. Kansas’ Aug. 2 vote showed that abortion rights are wildly popular everywhere and win when they’re directly on the ballot.

Anti-abortion activists being delusional isn’t exactly news, nor is their proven record of fiscal irresponsibility. The Washington Post reported in 2019 that between 2016 and that year, several anti-abortion state governments defending abortion restrictions in court had spent nearly $10 million in legal fees (with taxpayer dollars). The state of Texas alone owed Whole Woman’s Health more than $2.3 million after the Supreme Court struck down an abortion restriction in the state in the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Between these numbers and Kansas abortion opponents’ massive credit card debt, these are pretty much the last people who should be telling us we don’t have money to fund abortion care, paid family leave, or other “entitlement” programs.