Lawmakers in Kansas last week overwhelmingly passed a ballot proposal that, if approved by state voters, would amend the state constitution to clarify that there is no right to an abortion.
Senators in the Sunflower State voted 28 to 11 last Thursday to support Concurrent Resolution 5003, which places the amendment on the Aug. 2, 2022 state ballot, where a simple majority would be needed to change the state’s constitution.
The language of the amendment states that “the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.”
The measure, known as the “Value Them Both Amendment,” was passed in the Kansas House by a vote of 86 to 38 on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
“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 resolution states.
Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican, said in a statement that the proposal’s passage marked a “monumental day for both women and the unborn in Kansas.”
“As a result of this historic action, the people of Kansas will now have the opportunity to right the wrongs of the Kansas Supreme Court ruling from May of 2019,” Masterson stated.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, a pro-choice Democrat, denounced the proposed amendment and claimed that it would harm the economy and send the state back “to the Dark Ages.”
“There are a number of CEOs who really look to see what kind of inclusive policies we have in place that make it easier for them to recruit and retain a talented workforce,” Kellytold the Associated Press in a recent interview. “It will be an economic development issue for us.”
Senate Democrats have also voiced disapproval with the amendment. Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes accused Masterson and other Senate Republicans of trying to “control the healthcare and personal decisions of Kansans.”
“Make no mistake: this amendment opens the door for the Legislature to ban abortion in cases of rape or incest,” Sykes argued in a statement shared by WIBW. “If approved by Kansas voters, the Legislature will have unchecked power to ban abortion including in cases where the life of the mother is at risk. And it paves the way for politicians in Topeka to ban abortion outright.”
Passage of the proposal was praised by pro-life and social conservative advocacy groups, such as the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council and Students for Life of America. Meanwhile, abortion lobbying organization Planned Parenthood Action has expressed its outrage.
The social conservative organization Family Policy Alliance of Kansas argued on Facebook that the proposal is “all about empowering women and protecting babies.” The organization thanked its national partners, such as the James Dobson-founded Focus on the Family.
“Despite what is going on nationally, we will keep promoting a culture of life and the dignity of every person in the states!” the Family Police Alliance vowed.
Brittany Jones, the director of advocacy for the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, celebrated the news of the concurrent resolution’s passage in a statement shared with Focus on the Family’s news outlet, The Daily Citizen.
“With the passage of Value Them Both in the Kansas Senate, the people of Kansas now have the opportunity to have a say in ensuring that our live-saving laws are protected,” she said.
Kansas is the latest of multiple states to consider similar amendments. Last November, voters in Louisiana added a similar measure to their state constitution.
Louisiana Amendment 1, also called the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment, passed last year with 62% of the vote. Over 1.27 million voters supported the measure.
The amendment added to the Louisiana Constitution states that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
The Iowa legislature is currently considering a similar measure, with the proposed measure advancing through a House subcommittee in a vote of 2-1 last month.
Last week, the South Carolina Senate voted 30-13 to approve a bill that would outlaw abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Similar bills have been passed in other states in recent years and faced legal challenges.