After Kennedy retirement, you'll find thousands of the nation's happiest people in ... Wichita, Kan.

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After Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement announcement Thursday, CNN political analyst Jeffrey Toobin tweeted that abortion will be illegal in 20 states in 18 months.

The Twitter post, expressing the worst fears of abortion-rights supporters, quickly went viral.

But if there is weeping and gnashing of teeth — on the pro-choice side — over the future of Roe v. Wade, the mood is something entirely different among thousands of pro-life advocates gathering in Wichita, Kan., this weekend.

Coincidentally, the National Right to Life committee's three-day national convention started this morning — the day after the Kennedy news shook the nation's political and legal landscape.

This post mainly serves as a public service announcement that regional newspapers — including the Kansas City Star and the Wichita Eagle — are following the convention and have produced some excellent coverage already. 

Today's in-depth preview of the convention by the Star mixes crucial details and relevant context both on the National Right to Life Committee and red-state Kansas itself:

For the first time in its 50-year history, the nation’s largest anti-abortion organization is holding its annual convention in Kansas, a state seen by many in the movement as a model for passing tough abortion restrictions.
The National Right to Life Committee, which has affiliates in every state and more than 3,000 chapters across the country, will open its convention Thursday morning at the Sheraton Overland Park with 90 minutes of speeches by Gov. Jeff Colyer and others.
“There’s a lot of enthusiasm and optimism in the pro-life base right now,” said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. “We are seeing a lot of young people getting involved. We have a president who is issuing great pro-life orders and actions. And he’s appointing judges to the courts that we believe will strictly interpret the Constitution and not make it up as they go along.”

And yes, the Star notes the significance of Kennedy's retirement:

The abortion issue will be even more at the forefront now, with Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announcing his retirement on Wednesday, a move that will allow President Donald Trump an opportunity to solidify conservative control of the high court.
The 81-year-old Kennedy, a Republican appointee, has been a key vote on the abortion issue, generally supporting abortion rights during his time on the court. Trump has repeatedly pledged to appoint justices who want to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that recognized a woman's right to an abortion.

Meanwhile, the Wichita paper has a new story out this afternoon highlighting the giddy mood of convention attendees:

Judy Budde saw Donald Trump as the lesser of two evils.
But that was back during the 2016 election, when people thought about how picking Trump could change the course of the U.S. Supreme Court and American history. Now, he’s the president, he has the 78-year-old Budde's support, and she’s getting exactly what she wanted by choosing him.
As National Right to Life, the nation’s largest anti-abortion organization, began holding its annual convention Thursday in Overland Park, there was a feeling of happiness among those filling the convention center.
“I feel wonderful that he is going to get a chance to appoint someone new,” said Budde, of Kansas City. “”And we hope we can get all this stuff reversed.”
That hope was echoed by many in the anti-abortion movement Thursday, where people ranging from Arizona to Boston to suburban Kansas City spent the first of the three days at the convention.

The Eagle report reflects the other side, too, as good journalism should:

While abortion opponents rejoiced, abortion-rights advocates were preparing to fight.
Access to safe and legal abortion has long been under attack, said Brandon J. Hill, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, and “anti-abortion activists haven’t been shy about declaring this their chance to make it illegal in the U.S. to access abortion.”
“Our supporters in Kansas will be fighting like hell and demanding that their senators reject any Supreme Court nominee that opposes Roe v. Wade and the right to safe, legal abortion,” Hill said in a statement.

Given the Kennedy news, it'll be interesting to see if the convention draws any national media interest. I didn't find any (so far) in a quick Google search.

The abortion issue itself is, of course, sparking plenty of national-level reporting and analysis. As always, Godbeat pro Emma Green of The Atlantic offers an interesting, insightful perspective on "The Coming Battle to Overturn Roe v. Wade."

Read it all.

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