One of the most difficult, but necessary, elements of opinion writing is providing an objective analysis of issues you care deeply about. There’s a constant pressure (both internal and external) to “get on the team,” to deny the other side any “ammunition” in the never-ending war of ideas.

There’s perhaps no debate more impacted by this pressure than the American abortion debate. The stakes are so high—and emotions run so hot—that it’s hard to drill down and answer the key question: What’s really going on?

Well, I’m going to try to do that today. I’m writing about the Kansas abortion referendum, where voters in a solidly red state resoundingly rejected a constitutional amendment that would have empowered the legislature to tightly regulate (and perhaps ban) abortion in the state. Instead, voters preserved the status quo, which protects the right to abortion up to 22 weeks of pregnancy.

The outcome doesn’t surprise me. The margin and turnout do. To understand why, we’ve got to go deep into public opinion on abortion. Buckle up. This is going to get complicated.

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