Anti-Abortion Extremist Kris Kobach Wins Kansas Attorney General Race

The outcome is a huge blow to pro-choice advocates who fought so hard this summer to defeat an anti-abortion ballot proposal.

Right-wing firebrand Kris Kobach is projected to win Tuesday’s Kansas attorney general race against Democratic opponent Chris Mann.

Kobach, former Kansas secretary of state and longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, has an extensive anti-abortion record. He was one of the lead proponents of the Value Them Both amendment, the anti-abortion ballot proposal that would have removed abortion protections from the state constitution. Despite 60% of Kansans voting against the referendum, Kobach has continued to advocate for more abortion restrictions on the campaign trail.

A month after the majority of Kansans voted against the anti-abortion proposal, Kobach pitched a new strategy to remove abortion rights from the state’s constitution. Instead of taking aim at abortion care directly, Kobach said he would push for a ballot question that asked voters if Kansas Supreme Court justices should be directly elected rather than appointed by a commission and the governor.

“This issue is not over,” said Kobach, the Wichita Eagle reported. “The fight for life is going to continue.”

Kobach has been very outspoken about his anti-choice views heading into the election — a departure from many of his Republican colleagues who chose to instead attack Democrats on the economy. Mann, a prosecutor and former police officer, said very little about abortion rights on the campaign trail.

An attorney, Kobach first rose to fame as the author of a strict anti-immigration law in Arizona and later served as Kansas’ secretary of state. His far-right, anti-immigration views and calls for stricter voter ID laws catapulted him into national prominence during the Trump years. And his views on abortion have remained constant throughout his political tenure.

Kobach has continually called for the Supreme Court to repeal Roe v. Wade, and believes there should be no exceptions for abortion restrictions. In 2018, Kobach supported legislation to ban all abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected. In 2004, he was a proponent of a bill that requires people seeking an abortion to get an ultrasound and mandates the state to tell patients that an abortion will cause a fetus to feel pain — an often-cited anti-abortion talking point that has not been scientifically proven. Kobach also opposes federal funding for Planned Parenthood, comparing the pro-choice organization to Nazis in 2015.

When Kobach won his primary race in August, many pro-choice organizations were worried a general election win for Kobach would mean the fight for abortion rights in Kansas is far from over.

“Kris Kobach wants to make Kansas the most hostile state in the country for abortion rights,” Emily Trifone, the deputy communications director at Democratic Attorneys General Association, told HuffPost in August.

Former President Donald Trump greets then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as he arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J.
Former President Donald Trump greets then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, as he arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J.
via Associated Press

In May, before the Value Them Both amendment failed, Kobach detailed how he would prioritize restricting abortion access in the state if elected.

“After the Value Them Both Amendment passes, I will use my authority as Kansas Attorney General to ensure that all of Kansas’s pro-life laws that were overturned or threatened by the Hodes & Nauser decision of the Kansas Supreme Court are immediately restored to full effect,” Kobach wrote in a five-point plan published to his website.

“I will also push for additional laws to make Kansas the most pro-life state in America. And when the ACLU sues to block our pro-life laws, I will aggressively defend them in court.”

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe in June, over a dozen states in the South and Midwest have near-total abortion bans in effect — making Kansas an unlikely sanctuary state for abortion care. And abortion is already heavily regulated in the state: It’s banned after 22 weeks except to save the life of the pregnant person, and government funding for abortion care is outlawed. There are only five clinics left in Kansas, and there are a slew of other barriers to get care, including a 24-hour waiting period, state-mandated ultrasounds and required religious counseling.

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