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Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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Kansas Legislature Puts Pro-Life Constitutional Amendment on 2022 Ballot

'The people of Kansas have shown they are pro-life, and the election spoke volumes...'

(Headline USA) Republican legislators on Thursday put a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution on the ballot for the state’s August 2022 primary election

If voters pass the amendment, then they can ensure that lawmakers can keep passing legislation to save the lives of unborn babies.

The Senate approved, 28-11, a measure that overturns a Kansas Supreme Court decision in 2019 that declared access to abortion a “fundamental right” under the state’s bill of rights.

Supporters had one vote more than the two-thirds majority necessary for approval of a proposed constitutional change.

The House approved the same measure last week with only Republican members’ support, and the same was true Thursday in the Senate.

Approval by a simple majority of voters would change the Kansas Constitution, and the primary generally draws smaller and more conservative group of voters than a November general election.

The measure would add language to the state constitution declaring that it doesn’t grant the right to abortion and that the Legislature can regulate it in line with U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

The measure would not ban abortion, but it would allow lawmakers to enact a ban if the nation’s highest court were to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights.

“Kansans don’t want an unregulated abortion industry,” said state Sen. Molly Baumgardner, a Kansas City-area Republican who led fellow anti-abortion lawmakers in the debate.

If voters approve the measure, Kansas would become at least the seventh state with language in its constitution saying the charter does not grant a right to abortion, and Iowa lawmakers also are considering a similar measure.

The Kansas proposal is similar to ones approved by voters in Tennessee in 2014, West Virginia in 2018 and Louisiana in 2020.

Both sides were confident enough that the Kansas Senate would approve the measure that they had already begun previewing messages for what is likely to be an intense, monthslong campaign.

Those messages included one from abortion rights supporters that adding the anti-abortion language to the state constitution would hurt the state’s economy because pro-abortion companies may leave the state and women may have to raise their children instead of work.

Ahead of the Senate’s debate, Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly warned that enacting it would lead to boycotts of Kansas and discourage companies from relocating to the state.

Kelly, a strong abortion rights supporter, said last year that the proposal would return the state “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 work force,” Kelly said in a recent Associated Press interview. “It will be an economic development issue for us.”

But the biggest threat to the measure’s approval in the Senate was too many GOP members being absent because of illness or personal reasons. Elections last year not only preserved GOP supermajorities in both chambers but made them more conservative.

“The people of Kansas have shown they are pro-life, and the election spoke volumes,” said Jeanne Gawdun, lobbyist for Kansans for Life.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.

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