Four Republicans killed a Kansas constitutional amendment Friday that would have ensured state taxpayers are not forced to pay for unborn babies to be aborted.
The Kansas House narrowly failed to pass the amendment by the required two-thirds majority, Kansas News Service reports. The vote was 80-43, just four votes away from approval.
Four Republicans joined Democrats in voting against the amendment: Reps. Don Hineman, R-Dighton, Tom Phillips, R-Manhattan, Bill Pannbacker, R-Washington, and Jan Kessinger, R-Overland Park.
The Value Them Both amendment would add language to the the Kansas Constitution stating that there is no right to abortion or taxpayer-funded abortions.
The measure is especially critical after the Kansas Supreme Court found a so-called “right to abortion” in their state constitution in 2019. The ruling jeopardizes Kansas abortion regulations that protect women and babies; a constitutional amendment would help ensure they remain in place.
The amendment passed the state Senate in January. If it would have passed the House, the Value Them Both amendment would have been placed on the ballot for voters’ approval in August.
Hineman, one of the four Republicans who voted no, insisted that he is pro-life, but he disagreed with the time-frame, according to the Kansas News Service. He said he wanted the amendment on the ballot in November.
“Throughout my 12-year legislative career, I’ve maintained a staunch pro-life record,” Hineman said. “My ‘no vote’ today is not in contradiction to that.”
Though they suffered a defeat, pro-life Republican leaders promised to continue fighting for protections for unborn babies and mothers.
“It will come up — I can guarantee you that,” House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R) told The Associated Press.
Senate President Susan Wagle (R) promised to hold up a bipartisan plan to expand Medicaid in Kansas to upwards of 150,000 people, a plan that is a top priority of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.
“If Governor Kelly’s Medicaid Expansion passes without the Value Them Both Amendment, Kansas will become the 17th state to implement taxpayer funded abortions,” Wagle said in a statement. “The Senate will not take up Medicaid Expansion without the passage of the Value Them Both Amendment.”
Without the amendment, Kansas could become the “wild west of the abortion industry,” Brittany Jones of the Family Policy Alliance said in January. 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.
The amendment is 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 their rulings have been used to force taxpayers to fund abortions and restrict the state legislature from passing even minor, common sense abortion restrictions.
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 their tax dollars. The amendment also 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.
Action: Contact the Republican lawmakers who voted against the pro-life amendment:
Don Hineman (R-Dighton) 785.296.7384 firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Phillips (R-Manhattan) 785.290.7402 email@example.com
Bill Pannbacker (R-Washington) 785.296.7637 Bill.Pannbacker@house.ks.gov
Jan Kessinger (R-Overland Park) 785.296.7436 Jan.Kessinger@house.ks.gov