Kansas lawmakers advance constitutional amendment to exclude ‘right to abortion’

The Kansas Senate on Jan. 28 passed a measure that, if approved by voters, would amend the state’s constitution to exclude a “right to abortion” and reserve the right to regulate abortion in the state to the legislature.

The proposed “Value Them Both” amendment would codify 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 Kansas House had passed the amendment Jan. 22.

The impetus for the amendment is an April 2019 ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court blocking a law that would have banned dilation and evacuation abortions, which found that the state constitution protects a woman’s right to have an abortion.

If voters approve the amendment by a simple majority during the primary election in August 2022, it will nullify that ruling.

The amendment’s supporters have said that the amendment is not intended to be a ban on abortion, but rather will allow bipartisan laws restricting abortion passed before the 2019 ruling to take effect. Democratic Governor Laura Kelly is opposed to the amendment.

The Kansas Catholic Conference has supported the amendment, saying that because the measure did not pass the legislature in 2020, “it will be the legislative priority” for the state’s bishops in the 2021 session.

Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, told CNA that while the amendment’s passage is an “unprecedented legislative achievement,” getting the measure to pass when placed before voters will be a challenge.

Weber said he expects strong opposition to the amendment from the abortion industry.

“Without the financial resources that the abortion industry enjoys, ours will be a grassroots, shoe leather effort. It really is David versus Goliath,” he told CNA.

Weber said the KCC is preparing a statewide grassroots educational campaign which will involve Catholic churches in the state, diocesan Respect Life coordinators, parishes, Knights of Columbus, college students at Newman Centers and Catholic colleges and universities, and Catholic schools. The group is also reaching out to non-Catholic partners, including the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, Weber said.

He urged prayers for the amendment’s passage.

“We already have in place a robust spiritual effort that includes leaning on Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn, who is the Patroness for our effort,” he said, adding that all four of Kansas’ Catholic bishops have encouraged the faithful to pray the rosary together.

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