Kansas special committee recommends constitutional amendment on abortion

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — The Special Committee on Federal and State Affairs has made a recommendation to the legislature that could change the Constitution of Kansas to potentially outlaw abortion.

In April, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the state Constitution which gives a woman the right to decide whether to continue with a pregnancy or have an abortion. Pro-life groups are asking for a constitutional amendment to be made that would change this.

All but two lawmakers on the Special Committee for Federal and State Affairs agreed to move the recommendation for a possible amendment forward.

Barbara Saldivar was one of the people who testified before the committee today. She is with the group Concerned Women for America of Kansas.

Saldivar said she would support a constitutional amendment changing the current law on abortion, adding that there are other options for women.

“Women are sometimes trapped in a situation that this seems the only way out but it isn’t,” said Saldivar.

However, opponents of the amendment say that it all comes down to a woman’s right to choose for herself.

“Fundamental rights are not dependent on a popular vote,” said Rachel Sweet, Regional Director of Public Policy and Organizers, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. “Those are things that are inherent in our constitution and are granted to all of us, simply by being Kansans.”

Sweet, along with other pro-choice groups, argued that a woman’s bodily autonomy should not be a decision made by popular opinion or politics.

“This is a critical issue that directly impacts Planned Parenthood patient’s ability to access care,” continued Sweet.

The recommendation from the committee will move the process one step further. The decision now lies with the legislature on whether to move forward with a constitutional amendment. If the vote passes in the legislature, it will be on a ballot for the people of Kansas to decide. Some lawmakers in the special committee felt a vote on an amendment would be the best way to hear the voices of the people.

“Let them decide and tell us, their elected representatives, what they want,” said Representative John Barker (R).

The recommendation made by the committee today is just a recommendation. No language has been written for an amendment and no changes have been made to the Constitution of Kansas at this time.

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