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West Virginia Governor Denies Request to Put Abortion Vote to the People After Seeing What Happened in Kansas

Republicans are thrilled to “send abortion back to the states" as long as it doesn't mean sending it back to actual voters, most of whom want abortion rights.

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Image for article titled West Virginia Governor Denies Request to Put Abortion Vote to the People After Seeing What Happened in Kansas
Photo: AP Photo/Chris Jackson (AP)

After the fall of Roe v. Wade, some conservatives are apparently fine with “sending abortion back to the states,” but only if it means leaving the decision to gerrymandered state legislatures and not the actual voters in those states. West Virginia Governor, party-switcher, and bulldog humiliator Jim Justice (R) said Monday that he opposes a suggestion from Democratic lawmakers to put abortion access on the ballot in a referendum, according to the Associated Press. And of course he does, considering what happened when Kansas did it.

The state’s pre-Roe abortion ban is being blocked by a judge, and Republicans failed to pass a bill criminalizing abortion in a special session this summer. Democrats asked Justice on Friday to hold another special session so they could consider a resolution on a constitutional amendment (read: a ballot measure that would go to a popular vote) for “reproductive freedom.” The AP said Justice “scoffed” at the idea and said state abortion law is under the purview of the legislature and the attorney general, only. No democracy allowed.

“Unfortunately, this place is surrounded with constant grandstanding,” Justice said at a Monday news conference. “I think that’s what the Democrats are doing.”

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I think what Republicans like Justice are doing is looking at how Kansas voters defeated an anti-abortion amendment by nearly 20 points—with the pro-choice position outperforming Donald Trump’s 2020 results—and getting very, very nervous. I think what Justice is doing is reading coverage of polls showing that a majority of Americans would like to vote on abortion directly and would vote to protect access.

As my colleague Caitlin Cruz wrote last week:

In a new poll released Wednesday by USA Today/Ipsos, seven in 10 Americans—70 percent!—said they want to vote on abortion, like what just happened in Kansas. If a ballot measure was put forth, more than half said they would vote for legalizing abortion. When that number is broken down to party affiliation, 76 percent of Democrats would vote for abortion as would 52 percent of independent voters and 34 percent of Republicans.

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If a Republican claims that abortion should be a state, not federal, issue, but then wants to limit who in the state can weigh in, that’s a giant, hypocritical red flag.