A Silver Lining
The outcome of a recent referendum in the US state of Kansas has shown that nearly 60% of voters are in favour of Women’s Right to urdergo Abortions. The development is quite important, keeping in mind that the US Supreme Court officially reversed the verdict of Roe versus Wade Case on June 24 (2022). The Apex Court declared that the Constitutional Right to Abortion, upheld for nearly five decades, would no longer exist… however, the Abortion Referendum in Kansas indicates that the common people in the US clearly think otherwise. On August 2, an unprecedented number of voters in Kansans voted against a constitutional amendment that would have allowed lawmakers to end abortion protections. This incident is not just a big win for Women’s Rights, as it has a far-reaching significance.
Kansas is a pro-Republican State that is governed by the Republicans. Hence, it is expected that people of Kansas are against the Right to Abortion on principle. It seems that the Republican Government decided to measure the public sentiment through the referendum, before introducing a tougher law against abortion. However, the outcome of the referendum has shocked the Republicans. Experts are of the opinion that the Kansas referendum would have a great impact on upcoming referendums on the same issue in other States, and also on nationwide elections in November 2022.
Beyond the immediate social tension and political gain, the referendum in Kansas has highlighted the larger concept of Democracy. The principle of Checks and Balances is very important in Democratic form of Governance, and the Apex Court plays a crucial role in this regard. Judiciary has a special importance among the three main wings (along with the Legislative and the Executive) of a democratic structure. However, the Kansas referendum has made it clear that the character of Democracy is slightly different in the US. As far as the US Federal structure is concerned, each and every State has the power to change, amend or ratify its own Constitution in accordance with its requirements. Even after the historic judgement of the Supreme Court, the decision of a so-called conservative State to fathom the public sentiment on a sensitive issue through a referendum is actually a proof of the excellence of the US Federal structure.
The Federal Structure has a great importance especially in a large nation. It is quite difficult to implement a particular law or a Supreme Court judgement in a country where Politics, Religion, Ethnicity, Population, Social-psychology, etc. are diverse and multifaceted. The Kansas referendum has shown that the majority of people, even in a Republican-dominated State in a large country, voted against the Republican-leaning ruling of the Apex Court.
In Democracy, casting a vote is not just a political activity, but also an excellent opportunity to give feedback on important issues, and a sign of healthy governance. It is not that the US has always been able to demonstrate this healthy democratic practice. However, people of Kansas have shown their political maturity this time. If a State can create an opportunity for its citizens to freely express their opinions on important issues without being influenced by a particular party (or a political ideology), then its importance is immense. The more Democratic nations understand this importance, the better off their citizens shall be.
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