A shortened version of this blog aired on NPR's KQED Perpsectives Commenary.
The Kansas vote affirming the state Constitution's protection of abortion rights affirmed my faith in people. The eighteen-point margin of victory in a socially conservative state showed that in our darkest hours we can always count on the dawn. As morning follows night, a new day inevitably breaks.
Supreme Courts will make cruel decisions like the recent one repealing Roe, but life keeps moving on. The folks in Kansas, in the biggest turnout for a primary election in the state's history, reminded us that unjust laws don't last forever, nor do they have the power to penetrate everywhere.
Kansas has a venerable liberation history. From 1854 to 1859 the state was a battleground: would it enter the Union as a Free or Slave state? Pro-slavery voters poured over from neighboring Missouri to rush through bogus elections proving Slavery sentiment. Northern Free Staters, led by abolitionist John Brown, flocked to settle in Kansas so they could vote Free Soil. Fierce battles ensued, with each side trying to oust the other, until the state became known as Bloody Kansas.
In 1859 Kansas residents voted in a referendum: the majority--10,421 to 5,530--overwhelmingly supported the "Free Soilers," enshrining their anti-slavery status in a new state Constitution. Two years later, in January, 1861, Kansas entered the Union as a Free State, forever gaining the nickname "The Free State."
Eighty years later another famous Kansan made history when she left on a pilgrimage, seeking a magician with the power to grant wishes. Catapulted over the rainbow into Oz, Dorothy uttered her famous line, "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore."
But upon her victorious return to Kansas, Dorothy tapped the heels of her ruby slippers together and exclaimed, with relief, "There's no place like home. There's no place like home."
After the vote this week I'm agreeing with Dorothy. There's no place like Kansas. Thank you, Kansas voters, for upholding your acclaimed heritage as a Free State. Kansas women—and those from neighboring states who seek abortions—will retain the ability to determine their own medical destinies, free from legislative and judicial meddling.
I salute you, Kansans, for your courage in upholding this critical ingredient of women's independence. May every rainbow bring you blessings.