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August 01, 2022
What A Day
Kansas Votes Today To Protect Abortion Access

In This Episode

  • Kansas votes today on whether the state’s constitution should still explicitly protect the right to an abortion. Ashley All, a spokesperson for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, joins us to discuss how she’s been organizing ahead of the vote.
  • And in headlines: the U.S. killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShaun Watson was temporarily suspended, and Capitol rioter Guy Reffitt was sentenced to over seven years in prison.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Aribindi: It’s Tuesday, August 2nd. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Erin Ryan: And I’m Erin Ryan. And this is What A Day, where we are advising Shakira’s hips to resist the temptation to lie as she heads to tax court in Spain. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yes. So we still don’t know which part of you may have done the felony tax evasion Shakira. So it is best for your whole body to just be honest. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. So don’t hold us liable if this backfires. We are not lawyers.


Priyanka Aribindi: On today’s show, President Biden announced that the U.S. killed Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Plus, Nancy Pelosi might be pissing off China with a planned visit to Taiwan today.


Erin Ryan: But first we’ve said it many times on the show, but ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe. The fight for abortion access will be waged state by state. And today is a crucial day for Kansas. 


[clip of activists shouting] We will not go back. Abortion is healthcare. 


Erin Ryan: Those are activists in Wichita last month and they’ve been working hard for weeks because today the state votes on whether to protect abortion access. Priyanka, can you tell us more? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, definitely. So the story here starts about three years ago in 2019, when Kansas’s Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitution explicitly protects the right to an abortion. The exact language the justices used is that it, quote, affords the protection of the rights of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body. Very basic right, but not one that we can really take for granted these days. So happy they wrote it in there. Since then, Kansas Republicans have laid the groundwork to strip that kind of language out of the Constitution, which opens the door to abortion bans. That is where today’s referendum comes in. A yes vote means that the constitution will be rewritten. A no vote means that the Constitution stays the same as well as abortion access. So we want a no vote here. 


Erin Ryan: I’m just going to go ahead and make the obvious joke that I don’t know that Republicans respect when no means no. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Mmm. 


Erin Ryan: Anyway. And the timing of this is a real coincidence, because with today’s vote, that makes Kansas the first state in the country to put abortion access on the ballot after Roe was overturned. How do we think it might play out? 


Priyanka Aribindi: You know, it’s hard to say. There are very few polls out there, but one came out about two weeks ago. It showed 47% of people plan to vote yes, while 43% said they’d vote no. Pretty close. This is another perfect time to remind everybody that this is why voting is so important. Kansas Republicans spent three years trying to get this on the ballot and today is the day to tell them no. And by the way, Kansas isn’t the only state that is taking this issue to the public for a vote. 


Erin Ryan: You know, one thing I wanted to flag right now to you, some corporate speak. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yup. 


Erin Ryan: Is, you know, we’re talking about taking these things to a public vote. Let’s allow people who don’t have the same anatomy as 51% of the population weigh in also. It’s so creepy. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Extremely bizarre. 


Erin Ryan: All of this is so creepy. But I digress. So Michigan activists are working on their own referendum this fall to actually remove a 1931 anti-abortion law from the state’s books. But there’s some news on that. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. So some important legal back and forth just happened on that law itself. When I say just, I’m talking like a matter of days, like very recent. So back in May, the state’s Democratic attorney general said she wouldn’t enforce it if Roe was overturned. But yesterday, the state’s court of appeals said local county prosecutors can enforce the law and prosecute health care workers who provide an abortion. And then just hours later, a circuit judge issued a restraining order to stop the prosecutors from doing that, specifically in these states’s 13 counties that have abortion clinics. That is because of the work of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, whose administration continues to fight this law in court. The next hearing on this happens tomorrow. But obviously, the best solution is for voters in Michigan to get that 1931 law off of the books once and for all. 


Erin Ryan: There’s something that is so almost getting the point, but not quite getting the point of being like, let’s return this to, like, local control. 


Priyanka Aribindi: No, no. 


Erin Ryan: There was local control before, when it was my decision and not a state legislatures decision. Like, anyway, it can’t get more local than that. But getting back to Kansas’s vote today, what should we know about that ground game by activists? 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, a lot. So earlier I talked with Ashley All from the organization, Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. And I first asked her what the activity looked like to get out the vote. 


Ashley All: Really, in the last couple of months, it’s gotten very busy. Folks have really engaged in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen in Kansas before. It’s been really impressive, especially since the Dobbs decision. Um, It really was a wake up call, I think, for a lot of people, not just the folks who pay attention to this issue most of the time, but folks who maybe are kind of in the middle and didn’t think it was these rights were threatened. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. Of all the conversations that you’ve been having, you know, on the ground with voters, regular people who maybe aren’t even voters yet. 


Ashley All: Mm hmm. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Are there any that stick out in your mind that, like, really illustrate the stakes of what we have here and what could happen? 


Ashley All: I was just in Wichita a couple of weeks ago. I was talking with a woman who was, you know, I mean, probably in her seventies, walks with a cane, but she was out canvasing in 95 degree heat and had spent the day before in a small town giving a speech at a rally because her grandmother had died of an illegal abortion and it tore their family apart. And so she really was engaged in this issue for a very specific reason. And she was doing it for her family and her grandmother. And that was really inspiring. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Ashley All: We’ve also worked really closely with a lot of um, you know, younger voters who are engaged on this issue. And it’s really, you know, kind of central to what they’re thinking about as we look at rights for young people just to see them really like take control and get to work has been really inspiring. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, that’s amazing. So what arguments, you know, that local activists have been presenting and people on the ground have been sharing? Have you found to be, you know, the most motivating for voters to say no, to get registered, to get involved? All of the above. 


Ashley All: You know, I think this really comes down to the decision in 2019, really centered on personal autonomy and Kansans having a right to make decisions about their lives, about their bodies, about their health care, free from government interference. That’s something that goes back to our early state days and that has really motivated people. And, you know, when they think about this amendment, the fact that it will mandate government control and take away those decisions from people, I think a broad audience really is motivated by that. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. So Michigan is another state that is working to put abortion access on the ballot as a referendum in their case this November. They’re trying to strip out a state law that threatens access. Do you have any advice for the activists there as they kind of take to the ground to do similar work to what you’re doing here? 


Ashley All: Well, two of the things that we’ve I think we’ve done pretty well. One is countering the misinformation. There’s always going to be misinformation about any of these ballot measures, and that has not been any different in Kansas. In fact, significant efforts by the other side to kind of change the conversation away from the extreme ban that they introduced this past year and kind of moderate their message because they understand it’s out of step with Kansans. But also, they have basically misled voters about the state of the law right now. The fact is that abortion is still regulated in Kansas. Even though we have a limited right, it’s still pretty heavily regulated. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Ashley All: And they have been saying that it’s not so it’s been countering misinformation and really staying on top of that, I think is critical. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Ashley All: Um, but the other thing that I think has been really important for us is really being willing to have conversations with folks who may differ from ourselves on some of the issues. You know, like, while we aspire to access uh for abortion for folks in our state. That is not you know, restricted um significantly. That is not where a lot of voters may be. And so being willing to have those conversations in the middle and being willing to uh you know find common ground where people can support access, um support those constitutional rights, that is something that’s been really important. 


Priyanka Aribindi: That’s awesome. And so this is very immediate happening now. The polls in Kansas close tonight. Yeah. So what will you be watching for in these early returns to kind of see how this will pan out? Is this going to take days for us to know what happens? What should we kind of be watching for? 


Ashley All: You know, I think it’s going to be really close. I mean, I am hopeful that we find out tonight, mostly because I need a nap [laughing]. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Ashley All: It’s been a pretty intense couple of months. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m sure. 


Ashley All: But no, I mean, we we are going to be looking for some of the big metropolitan areas. You know, we are confident that we will win in those areas, but we need to win big. We’ll be watching those things and really hoping that turnout exceeds expectations. That’s one of the things that’s been pretty challenging, is that this is on a a primary ballot. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Definitely. 


Ashley All: Which is really unusual for something of this magnitude. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. 


Ashley All: And um we really are hoping that people show up and vote, um especially unaffiliated voters, because they typically don’t vote in August primaries because they’re partisan primaries. So and that’s 29% of the electorate in Kansas, which is pretty significant. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Right. I um have my fingers crossed for you both on the vote and on your nap. 


Ashley All: Yes. Thank you. 


Priyanka Aribindi: But, you know, most of our WAD listeners, they’re not in Kansas, though, I mean, we do have a Kansas WAD squad. But what can our listeners do, you know, regardless of where they are to help you out today. Are we too late? Is there still stuff that is helpful? What can we do. 


Ashley All: If you know anybody in Kansas, like reach out, tell them to go vote, you know, but also just, you know, start to have those conversations. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Totally. 


Ashley All: Kansas may be the first state to vote on this issue, but we obviously are not going to be the last. It’s going to be something that is really important in the months and years to come. And we need to start having conversations with people across the political spectrum, because I think that we will find that the vast majority of Americans support access to abortion care, and they are much closer together than I think politicians would lead us to believe. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Erin, that is my conversation with Ashley All from Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. We’re going to put a link to their organization in our show notes so you can go support them today as they reach the finish line. Today is the day. Take out your phone. Text a friend who lives in Kansas. Ask them if they have a plan to vote and help them if they don’t. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. Oh, my goodness. Well, the thing about a state like Kansas is even if polling might show like a four point advantage for the side that you don’t want to win, we’re not talking about like the entire country here, we’re talking about a non-election day vote. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah. 


Erin Ryan: In a state that isn’t large and you can make a huge difference. Like your vote makes so much difference. If you live in Kansas. You, your friends, everybody that you know who cares about abortion access can actually make a difference. So we’ll also tell listeners about the outcome of the vote once the final results are in. But remember, state by state, the fight for abortion access is on and we’ll be following it every step of the way. And that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads. 




Priyanka Aribindi: Let’s get to some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Erin Ryan: The United States has carried out a fatal drone strike of Ayman al-Zawahiri, who after Osama bin Laden’s death was the leader of Al-Qaida. He previously planned the September 11th attacks alongside bin Laden. Officials said there were no civilian casualties resulting from the strike, which was executed by the CIA in Kabul, Afghanistan. Here’s President Biden last night, noting the significance of the killing: 


[clip of President Biden] Justice has been delivered and this terrorist leader is no more. People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer. The United States continues to demonstrate our resolve and our capacity to defend the American people against those who seek to do us harm. 


Erin Ryan: We’ll have more on this as it develops. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Deshaun Watson, the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, was temporarily suspended from playing on Monday over the mounting sexual misconduct claims against him. Watson will be benched for six NFL games without pay as punishment for coercing several women he hired for massages into sex. The judge in Watson’s case found that the quarterback violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy for engaging in unwanted sexual conduct with another person and undermining the league’s integrity. But she rejected the NFL’s recommendation to suspend Watson for the whole season because she deemed Watson’s behavior to be, quote unquote, “nonviolent”. On top of that, Watson won’t have to pay any fines or undergo any counseling to be reinstated. So basically his punishment for making unwanted advances on over two dozen women, if you haven’t been following this story, it is batshit bananas, is a timeout for six weeks. According to a report by the disciplinary officer in Watson’s case, there is one condition for Watson to be reinstated. He’ll only be allowed to see massage therapists that are approved by the Browns moving forward. 


Erin Ryan: Oh, good. That fixes it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yep. Problem solved. Problem solved. One would think he would lose his massage privileges. I don’t know. The league and the players union have three business days to appeal the decision, but the union said on Sunday that it doesn’t plan to do so. The NFL, however, left that door open and said it would, quote, “make a determination on next steps”. 


Erin Ryan: I guess now the NFL finally has its Houston Astros, right? Like it’s the Cleveland Browns are now like the villain team that everybody gets to root against. Second, 47% of NFL fans are women. I’m among them. Even though the NFL seems to be trying to wash its hands of the actual consequence by saying they wanted more. This move is is a giant fuck you to all of us. 47 percent of your fans, guys. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s disgusting. 


Erin Ryan: This is how you treat violence against women. 


Priyanka Aribindi: It’s a quarter per woman that he did this to. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah, it’s really, really gross. And as a lot of people have pointed out, there are people who have been guilty of much lesser offenses in terms of the amount of harm they’ve caused that have been suspended for much longer. For weed violations in the past, people have been suspended for many more games. Antonio Brown was suspended for eight games for threatening somebody who had made sexual misconduct allegations against him. One person. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, what a disgusting message to send the world. 


Erin Ryan: Yes. A cargo ship filled with corn sailed out of the port of Odessa on Monday, making it the first ship to leave Ukrainian waters since the start of Russia’s invasion. This is a pretty big deal because Russian forces have been blocking Ukraine’s Black Sea ports since February. And the hope is that these grains make it safely to the Middle East and Africa, where they’re desperately needed. According to Ukrainian officials, there are 16 more ships waiting to leave the port of Odessa in the coming days. Get that grain out of there. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Yeah, I hope they’re able to without issues. People need that food. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to visit Taiwan with meetings planned for later this evening and tomorrow, according to sources interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. As we’ve said on the show, China’s designation of Taiwan as a breakaway province makes Pelosi’s visit an inflammatory one, at least from their perspective. Yesterday, Chinese officials warned of the visits, quote, “egregious political impact and hinted at the possibility of military intervention.” The woman’s having a meeting like chill, but representatives for the U.S. are telling China not to do anything rash. Here is John Kirby, the spokesman for the National Security Council. 


[clip of John Kirby] There is no reason for Beijing to turn a potential visit consistent with longstanding U.S. policy into some sort of crisis with conflict. 


Erin Ryan: Well, let’s hope that the notoriously chill Chinese government, who historically has been great at receiving, processing and forgiving perceived slights will respond rationally. Got such a track record of doing so. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Oh Nance, stay safe out there. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. Seriously, uh Guy Reffitt, the first January 6th defendant to be convicted at trial was sentenced to over seven years in prison on Monday. This is the longest prison sentence any Capitol rioter has received so far. To refresh your memory, Reffitt was found guilty of five felony charges back in March, including obstruction of Congress and threatening his teenage son, who ended up turning him into the FBI. Blood may be thicker than water, but it’s thinner than pepper spray, which was apparently the only thing that kept Reffitt from entering the Capitol with zip ties and a pistol. Prosecutors originally asked for a 15 year sentence and wanted the court to classify Reffitt’s actions as domestic terrorism. But the judge ultimately didn’t go for it. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m confused as to why not. It’s on tape. 


Erin Ryan: There was a clip of his daughter speaking outside of the courthouse. And it was really heartbreaking because they truly seem to believe that their father had been led into this by Donald Trump. And actually, one of the daughters said that she thought that if their dad got a seven year prison sentence, that Donald Trump deserved a lifetime prison sentence, which– 


Priyanka Aribindi: I mean, I can’t yeah, I have no argument against that. You made your case. 


Erin Ryan: Yeah. 


Priyanka Aribindi: The nearly $740 billion mansion Schumer deal could give Democrats a life raft at the midterms. But poised and ready to thumb down that raft so hard that it is no longer seaworthy is Kyrsten Sinema, the moderate senator from Arizona who is so quirky that she’s actually a conservative? Hmm. Sinema hasn’t weighed in on the deal, which needs her support to pass. It includes funding for climate change, health care, and a tax increase on corporations. On Sunday, a Sinema spokesperson said that she would wait to see whether the bill is approved by the Senate parliamentarian. As for what else could be giving her pause, the bill would chip away at the carried interest loopholes, which benefits the marginalized underclass known as hedge fund managers by letting them pay a lower tax rate. Sinema has long objected to this provision, a position which definitely has nothing to do with the millions of dollars she has raised from private equity firms. 


Erin Ryan: What an exhausting person. If you cannot motivate yourself to vote out of hope, motivate yourself to vote out of the fact that Kyrsten Sinema should not be the person making these decisions. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Absolutely not. 


Erin Ryan: But hopefully, if we get a better margin in the Senate, she’ll matter a lot less. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Matter a lot less. We’ll have to hear about her a lot less. Get to care about her outfits a lot less. I like that for all of us. 


Erin Ryan: I totally agree. Two weeks ago, we told you about a woman who got fined almost $2,000 by the Australian Government for failing to declare the smooshed remnants of a Subway sandwich at Customs. I was here when we reported the story. I am so glad to be back for the follow up. Well, the food cops from down under are back and they’re as ruthless as ever. They slammed another traveler with the same nearly $2,000 fine for transporting two undeclared McMuffins. Plus a ham croissant from Indonesia to Australia. The fine isn’t just because Australia’s Transportation Authority Reps Burger King. It’s because the country launched a new biosecurity program and is particularly focused on foods coming from Indonesia, where a virus that causes foot and mouth disease is spreading among cattle. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether that justifies the fine. For my money, Australia should be a little less mad at Big Macs and more focused on Mad Max, who some listeners might know is an iconic piece of Australian intellectual property. 


Priyanka Aribindi: This headline has gone all over the place. I don’t even know what to react to. There’s too much. 


Erin Ryan: I feel like I’m on a Mad Max dune buggy. 


Priyanka Aribindi: You heard her. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go on. On the latest episode of Political Experts React, Dan is joined by former Kentucky State Rep Charles Booker to break down hot button political ads, including his own. Watch and subscribe by heading to YouTube.com/Crooked Media. That’s all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review, declare your McMuffin and tell your friends to listen. 


Erin Ryan: And if you are into reading and not just Kyrsten Sinema’s FEC disclosures like me. What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at Crooked.com/subscribe. I’m Erin Ryan. 


Priyanka Aribindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And don’t lie. Shakira’s hips. 


Priyanka Aribindi: Don’t do it. It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it. 


Erin Ryan: She’s already established that they don’t lie. But could that have been a ploy?  


Priyanka Aribindi: I don’t know. You– You don’t want these headlines. I don’t want these headlines, Shakira. No one wants them. So just please be truthful. 


Erin Ryan: Yes. 


Priyanka Aribindi: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzi Marine and Raven Yamamoto, our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein and our executive producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.