Legislators debate whether to put constitutional right to abortion to statewide vote

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Abortion laws in Kansas could be changing, and the final decision would be up to you.

Lawmakers are debating the Value Them Both proposal. It’s a proposal that would let voters decide on a woman’s right to an abortion.

It would allow lawmakers to regulate the abortion industry. Kansans would still have a right to an abortion because of the Roe v. Wade decision on the federal level.

In April of 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled getting an abortion is a constitutional right in the state.

Some people advocating for a constitutional amendment to change that said the ruling has lessened the power of lawmakers.

“Anything that they do to pass a reasonable regulation on abortion, all of that is presumed unconstitutional on its face,” said Jeanne Gawdun, director of government relations for Kansans For Life.

If this amendment is passed, all Kansans would get the final say to vote on it in the August primary in 2022. Though some people don’t believe that’s the right time to decide.

“Placing it on a ballot where fewer people show up may suggest that the supporters of this amendment know that their positions are unpopular,” said Rachel Sweet, policy director at Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes.

Last year the proposal failed in the legislature. All Democrats who voted, voted against it, and five Republicans joined them. Now all of those Republicans are out of the legislature, and the GOP has expanded their majority, meaning there could be an easier path to passing.

“It’s not a ban. All it would do is restore to the people of Kansas, through their elected officials, the right to regulate the abortion industry,” Gawdun said.

But people against the measure are worried that if the amendment passes, lawmakers will work harder to limit abortions in the state.

“The Kansas Legislature has passed 22 medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion care since 2011, so they have a long track record of chipping away at access,” Sweet said. “So when folks say they’re not going to go to extremes, I think we do have a hard time believing them because we have seen it happen before.”

The amendment is expected to be debated again next week.

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