Both a Kansas state House and state Senate committee have approved a pro-life state constitutional amendment that could keep their state from becoming the “wild west of the abortion industry.” The “Value Them Both” amendment would recognize that there is no “right to abortion” or taxpayer-funded abortions in the Kansas Constitution.
Pro-life leaders emphasized the need for the amendment after the Kansas Supreme Court found a so-called “right to abortion” in their state constitution in 2019. That ruling jeopardizes Kansas abortion regulations that protect women and babies, pro-life leaders said Thursday at a press conference.
“Unlimited abortion hurts both women and children,” said Jeanne Gawdun of Kansans for Life. “[The amendment] safeguards both women and babies from what soon could be an unregulated abortion industry created by the recent ruling …”
The amendment would have to pass the state legislature and then be approved by voters to be added to the constitution.
Today, the state legislature took the first step in approving the amendment:
The expedited committee votes came less than 24 hours after close of a joint public hearing gathering input from dozens of legislators, lobbyists and activists from across Kansas about placing on August primary ballots an amendment declaring the court was wrong to conclude the state’s foundational documents established abortion as a fundamental right.
If endorsed by two-thirds majorities in both the full House and Senate, a simple majority of Kansas voters participating in the August election would determine the outcome of the amendment. Kansas governors have no direct role in the process.
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Movement of the constitutional reform coincided with the annual anti-abortion march of hundreds of people into the Capitol in Topeka.
“Thank you to everyone who walked over here,” said Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican running for U.S. Senate. “We had hearings yesterday for many hours. We let proponents stand and opponents stand. And, the opponents tried scare tactics to dissuade us. We’re not here to judge. We’re here to protect.”
She told the crowd gathered under the Statehouse rotunda the April 2019 decision by the state Supreme Court did more than block implementation of a 2015 law banning a procedure common to second-trimester abortions. The court opened the door to repeal of dozens of abortion clinic regulations passed during the past 20 years, she said.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of the archdiocese in Kansas City, Kan., said at the gathering Kansans should “correct the error, the injustice, that our Supreme Court inflicted on the people of the state.”
The amendment language adopted by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Federal and State Affairs Committee said the Kansas Constitution didn’t secure a right to abortion and the state courts couldn’t stand in the way of lawmakers’ regulation of abortion in accordance with federal precedent of Roe v. Wade and subsequent court decisions.
Kansas Senate President Susan Wagle promised that the amendment will be a priority this year.
“We are going to pass a constitutional amendment that values both women and children,” she said to a room packed with pro-life advocates and lawmakers.
Gawdun said the measure will restore to Kansans the ability to regulate the abortion industry and protect women and children.
Without it, Kansas could become the “wild west of the abortion industry,” said Brittany Jones of the Family Policy Alliance. This could mean forcing taxpayers to fund elective abortions and allowing unrestricted abortions up to birth, as well as ending informed consent requirements and parental consent for minors.
In 2018, West Virginia voters passed a similar state constitutional amendment after decades of being forced by a court ruling to fund elective abortions with taxpayer dollars. The amendment will make it easier for state lawmakers to pass pro-life laws in the future.
Iowa and Kentucky also are considering pro-life amendments to their state constitutions this year. Louisiana voters will have a similar opportunity to add a pro-life amendment to their constitution in November.
These amendments are important because the abortion industry often turns to the courts to overturn pro-life laws. Some state courts have found a so-called “right to abortion” in their state constitutions, and these decisions have been used to force taxpayers to fund abortions and restrict the state legislature from passing even minor, common sense abortion restrictions.