Kansas becomes the first state to vote on a constitutional amendment about abortion Tuesday.
The vote comes a little more than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide, returning the issue to state legislatures.
Kansans will head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether the right to an abortion is protected by the Kansas Constitution, according to KWCH-TV. Voting by mail has already been underway in The Sunflower State.
The local outlet reported while the words "right to an abortion" are not directly stated in the Kansas Constitution, a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling protects a person's right to personal autonomy, which includes decisions concerning pregnancy. Now voters must decide if unborn persons have any rights.
Currently, abortion is still legal in Kansas, but Kansas law prohibits abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy or in cases where the life and health of the mother are in jeopardy. In the case of a minor, parents must be notified.
The proposed Kansas No State Constitutional Right to Abortion and Legislative Power to Regulate Abortion Amendment otherwise known as the "Value Them Both Amendment" would essentially end abortion-on-demand in the state. It would also prohibit the state government from funding abortions and give lawmakers the right to pass abortion laws.
The website Ballotpedia broke down how a citizen's "Yes" or "No" vote would affect the election's outcome.
- A "Yes" vote supports amending the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion.
- A "No" vote opposes amending the Kansas Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding for abortion and that the state legislature has the authority to pass laws regarding abortion. A "No" vote would maintain the legal precedent established in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt (2019) that there is a right to abortion in Kansas.
Recent polls show Kansans are closely divided on the issue.
The Topeka Capitol-Journal recently published the opinions of some of its readers about the upcoming vote.
Sandra Burton of Frankfort argued licensing regulations for abortion clinics in Kansas are strict and voters should reject the amendment. She contends it "will hand our personal health care decisions over to politicians in Topeka."
Meanwhile, Victoria Hysten Stone of Horton encouraged a "Yes" vote on the proposed amendment, because it "recognizes that unborn children are precious."
"To my Black Brothers and Sisters (and anyone else who's listening): I encourage you to vote YES on the Value Them Both amendment on Aug. 2," Stone wrote. "The question: What is the unborn, human or not? (Hint: Humans produce humans.) If it is not human, what is it? If it is human, is it OK to kill it?"
Kansas City Chiefs Kicker: 'Time to Show World Kansans Value Life'
In an op-ed for the Kansas Catholic Tribune, Harrison Butker, the kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs, wrote: "When the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the meaning of life in the Kansas Constitution refers only to those outside the womb, they left those without a voice to be targeted by terrible legislation and outside forces. The only way to defend the unborn, protecting the Sanctity of Life, is to amend the Kansas Constitution."
"That is why the Value Them Both Amendment is so essential to enshrining the protection of all human life and make Kansas a place where all children are valued at every stage of life," Butker noted.
He's concerned that if Kansas doesn't take this step to protect preborn persons that Kansas will become a headquarters for "the abortion industry and their allies."
"We must show the world that Kansans value life and are ready to enshrine this into the state's constitution," he continued.
The Chiefs kicker is also featured in a new TV commercial, asking Kansans to vote "Yes" on the issue. In the 30-second ad, Butker said voting "yes" "will allow Kansans to decide the issue, not judges, and not D.C. politicians. Without this amendment, even barbaric late-term abortions will be allowed."
Other States to Address Abortion This Year
Ballotpedia notes Kansas will just be the first of at least five ballot measures this year addressing abortion — the most on record for a single year. Measures have also been certified for the ballot in California, Kentucky, Montana, and Vermont.
It's not the first time the Sunflower State has drawn national attention to abortion. In 1991, pro-life activists launched the "Summer of Mercy," holding sit-down protests outside of the state's abortion clinics that led to thousands of arrests.
In 2009, Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, Kansas, who was nationally known for being one of the few doctors in the United States to perform late-term abortions, was shot and killed by a man whose family pointed to a lifelong bout with mental illness. Tiller's murderer, Scott Philip Roeder, was captured a few hours later and was convicted of the shooting in 2010.
Now that the Supreme Court has given each state a voice, Kansans will all have a chance to speak up in a productive way through the political process.
Have you have had an abortion, are contemplating ending your pregnancy, or would like pregnancy-related resources, please click here.