The Kansas Senate Judiciary Committee approved a pro-life constitutional amendment Tuesday that would make it clear there is no right to abortion in Kansas.
The AP reports the Value Them Both Amendment (HCR 5003) passed by a voice vote, and the full state Senate may consider it later this week.
Pro-life lawmakers said they want to pass the amendment quickly in case the legislative session ends early due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report.
The Value Them Both Amendment would add language to the the Kansas Constitution stating that there is no right to an abortion or taxpayer-funded abortion. To amend the constitution, the state legislature must approve the language by a two-thirds majority and then a majority of voters must approve it on the ballot.
Shawnee Mission Post reports the amendment could be on the August 2022 ballot if it passes the legislature this session.
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.
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The amendment narrowly failed to pass the state House last year after four Republicans sided with Democrats in voting against it. In November, however, all four lost their seats to pro-life lawmakers, and many believe there are enough votes for it to pass this year.
The Star reports Senate President Ty Masterson and House Majority Leader Ron Ryckman both said the pro-life amendment is a priority.
Pro-life organizations in Kansas are working together to support the pro-life amendment, including Kansans for Life, Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, the Kansas Catholic Conference and Concerned Women for America of Kansas.
Jeanne Gawdun, Kansans for Life director of government relations, said Kansas do not want abortion on demand.
“Value Them Both restores their voice in the public process. They sent a historic number of pro-life legislators to join those who championed and supported this resolution last year,” she said.
But Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion Democrat lawmakers are pushing back, claiming the amendment would interfere with women’s so-called “right” to abortion.
“This bill is, above all, about power and rights,” said state Rep. Stephanie Clayton in a column at the Post. “Our constitution gives us those rights, and our rights include the power to make decisions without the government meddling in our private lives. Our rights should never be subject to a vote of the people.”
The amendment states:
“Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”
The 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt threatens all existing limits on the abortion industry in the state. Without the amendment, Kansas could become the “wild west of the abortion industry,” Brittany Jones of the Family Policy Alliance said last year. 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 several states, courts have found a so-called “right to abortion” in their state constitutions. The 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.
ACTION: Contact Kansas state lawmakers to urge support for the amendment.