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Oklahoma reproductive rights advocates hopeful about Kansas abortion vote

Alie Utley and Joe Moyer react to their county voting against the proposed constitutional amendment during the Kansas for Constitutional Freedom primary election watch party in Overland Park, Kansas on August 2.
DAVE KAUP
/
AFP via Getty Images
Alie Utley and Joe Moyer react to their county voting against the proposed constitutional amendment during the Kansas for Constitutional Freedom primary election watch party in Overland Park, Kansas on August 2.

Advocates for Oklahoma reproductive rights say they're hopeful about what the Kansas abortion vote could mean for the state.

Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains said voters living in Kansas saw and heard about the challenges people were facing in other states after the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade in June.

"Kansas chose not to put themselves in the same crisis that we have in neighboring states like Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas," said Wales.

Wales said her organization worked with Kansas voters on a personal level to encourage them to share their own stories about how abortion had affected them.

"Statistics tell us that that all of us know, and likely love someone that's had an abortion," Wales said. "Once people were able to communicate about that — felt compelled to talk about it in the wake of fall of Roe, it absolutely galvanized people to stand up and protect their own right and the rights of other people in their state."

Organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice are working to eliminate barriers to reproductive health care.

Tamya Cox-Touré, the executive director for ACLU and chairwoman of OCRJ said one of those barriers is confusion from frontline workers who are unsure at what point is something deemed a medical emergency, and when they can intervene to save a patient's life.

"For doctors, where we know that they really want to provide the help to their patients when they just don't know and have to go to their legal department to simply ask 'Can we intervene?'" Cox-Touré said.

Cox-Touré said that uncertainty is being caused by poor responsibility on the state legislature's part — and it's forcing doctors to step in later on in pregnancies, which can make things dangerous for both the baby and the mother.

Nearly three months into the fall of Roe, Wales said the PPGP is still seeing an influx of people calling not only from their 4-state region, but from areas like Texas and Louisiana as people scramble to figure out where abortion care is legal.

Wales said the PPGP will continue to work with other states to help ensure people seeking abortions have a place to go.

While Oklahoma will not have a constitutional amendment on the ballot, Cox-Touré said abortion is still an important issue in this upcoming election.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.