House lacks needed support ahead of abortion amendment vote in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — Members of the Kansas House of Representatives spent the morning debating a possible amendment to the Kansas constitution that would give the legislature the power to regulate abortion in the state.

The debate ended with a preliminary vote that had 80 Republicans in favor of the proposed amendment and 41 representatives voting against the amendment. Four House Republicans, Don Hineman of Dighton, Jan Kessinger of Overland Park, Bill Pannbacker of Washington and Tom Phillips of Manhattan, sided with the Democrats in opposition of the bill.

However this was just a preliminary vote. The final vote will take place on Friday and it appears that the Republicans do not have the necessary support they need to pass this bill. The final vote needs a two-thirds majority vote, which would be 84 ‘yes’ votes. Four lawmakers will need to change their vote by tomorrow in order for the bill move on to a Kansas ballot.

Those in support of the bill argue it would reinstate regulations on abortions that went away with the Kansas Supreme Court Decision on abortion last year.

“That it really has to do with safety measures, clinic licensing, informed consent, parental consent, 24-hour waiting period,” said Representative Susan Humphries, (R) Wichita.

However, opponents of the bill see it as the first step toward a complete ban on abortion, as well as denying rights to women.

“If it passes, it would strip a subset of Kansans of their constitutional rights and that subset would be Kansans who can become pregnant,” said Representative Stephanie Clayton, (D) Overland Park.

If the vote passes through the House it will go on the August ballot, to be voted on by Kansans. Supports of the bill have pushed for an August special election despite opponents pointing to the much lower voter turnout in August compared to November.

“August is better because that’s when we talk about our Kansas issues…that’s when we’re really focusing on Kansas,” explained Rep. Humphries.

The phrase ‘voter fatigue’ has also been use many times in this debate. The claim is that the General Election in November has too many issues to vote on and Kansans may get fatigued with the number of votes. Opponents of the bill don’t believe this would be true.

“If we are going to undertake a major change to the Kansas constitution that, honestly, not only should the vote be in November, but it should be a mail ballot that has the highest turnout possible,” said Rep. Clayton.

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