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Joan Steinau Lester: The Free State

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Joan Steinau Lester says Kansas voters rejection of an abortion rights ban fits nicely with the state’s edgy and entertaining history.

The Kansas vote upholding their state Constitution’s abortion rights affirmed my faith. The 18-point margin of victory in a socially conservative state showed that in our darkest hours we can always count on the dawn.

Supreme Courts will make cruel decisions like repealing Roe, but life keeps moving as Kansas voters, in their biggest-ever turnout for a primary election, reminded us.

Kansas has a venerable history. From 1854 to ‘59 it was a ferocious battleground: would it enter the Union as a Free or a Slave state? Pro-slavery voters poured in from neighboring Missouri. Abolitionists, led by fiery John Brown, moved in to vote Free State. Fierce battles ensued, until it became known as Bloody Kansas.

In 1859 the state voted decisively: two-to-one to enshrine No Slavery in their new state Constitution. In 1861 Kansas entered the Union with the nickname "The Free State.”

Eighty years later another Kansan made history when she left home seeking a magician who could 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 return she rejoiced, "There's no place like home."

I agree with Dorothy. There’s no place like Kansas. Thank you for affirming your Free State heritage. Kansas women will thankfully retain the ability to choose their own medical destiny.

May every rainbow bring you blessings.

With a Perspective, this is Joan Steinau Lester.

Joan Steinau Lester is an author and activist.


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