Less than a year after the Kansas Supreme Court declared in a 6-1 decision in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt that the state’s 150-plus-year-old constitution established a fundamental right to abortion, a coalition of pro-life organizations and legislators today announced efforts to undo the court’s decision by amending the Kansas Constitution.
At a Thursday morning press conference, Senate President Susan Wagle, Reps. Susan Humphries and Susan Concannon, and other members of the Kansas Legislature joined representatives from Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, Concerned Women for America of Kansas, Kansas Catholic Conference, and Kansans for Life to unveil the text of the proposed “Value Them Both” constitutional amendment designed to override the Hodes & Nauser decision.
The two-sentenced proposed amendment is simple in structure and meaning:
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 United States Constitution, the people through their elected state representatives and state senators may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, in circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.
For this amendment to take effect, both the Kansas Senate and House must approve the proposed constitutional amendment by two-thirds majority, at which point it will be placed on the ballot for voters to decide on passage based on a majority vote. Whether the amendment will appear on the August primary ballot or the general election ballot in November 2020 will be up to the legislature.
Of course, that is assuming the amendment receives the requisite two-thirds support. Republicans hold enough seats to approve the constitutional amendment, with a 29 to 11 split in the 40-member Kansas Senate and an 84 to 41 advantage in the 125-seat House. Notwithstanding the national platforms of the respective parties, however, pro-abortion and anti-abortion perspectives do not split precisely down the political divide. Brittany Jones, a lawyer with the Family Policy Alliance, agreed, telling The Federalist, “Kansas is really a three-party system, with the ‘moderates’ of each party difficult to predict.”
Lobbying and public outreach on the amendment may also have an effect, with the abortion industry likely spending millions to maintain the victory it achieved in Kansas by executing on its stealth “strategy of using liberal judges in conservatives states to invent a state constitutional right to abortion — both as a failsafe should the United States Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade and as a means of attacking state restrictions on abortion upheld by federal courts.”
Last year, we already saw Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, “the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood in Kansas,” pushing its narrative that an amendment to the Kansas Constitution would be an assault on “women’s reproductive rights” and “personal and bodily autonomy,” with its Regional Director of Public Policy Rachel Sweet testifying before the Kansas Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs. “It is vital that Kansas legislators realize that they will not be on the right side of history should they allow a vote that could strip rights from Kansas women,” Sweet intoned.
Sweet’s soundbite, though, misrepresents the significance of the amendment, which would merely return the status quo to abortion regulation in Kansas. Without the amendment, “Every reasonable, publicly-supported regulation of the abortion industry may soon be struck down,” Senate President Wagle noted in a press release. That is because, as Jones explained, the Kansas Supreme Court’s “recent ruling removed the legal underpinning for laws that permit regulating abortion,” including such “broadly supported regulations like bans on brutal late-term abortion and taxpayer-funded abortions, parental notification requirements, and clinic safety standards.”
“Value Them Both” thus seeks to restore “to the people of Kansas, through their elected officials, the ability to regulate the abortion industry in a way that protects both women and babies,” the coalition stressed in its press release. But for that to happen, Kansas legislators must first pass the constitutional amendment unveiled today, so voters can weigh in on the question in late summer or fall.
That the abortion industry does not want Kansans to decide the issue is telling. It is also telling that abortion lobbyists seek to downplay the Hodes & Nauser holding, instead of embracing it. For all the talk of “shout your abortion,” when it comes time to vote, the pro-abortion left resorts to obfuscation and euphemism. Let’s hope the anti-abortion right is prepared to expose the truth — both of the Hodes & Nauser decision and the reality of abortion.