Abortion amendment in Kansas grabbing national attention, record spending. Here’s why.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - Next Tuesday, Kansans go to the polls to vote on the abortion amendment. It’s a vote that’s not only important for Kansans — it will have nationwide repercussions.
A “yes” vote on the amendment would allow state legislators to pass laws to regulate abortion because there is no Kansas constitutional right to abortion. A “‘no” vote upholds the Kansas constitutional right to an abortion.
Not only is this the first vote since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade earlier this summer, but depending on the results, Kansas could be one of the few states where abortion remains legal. Record turnout is expected. Early voting records are being shattered. Usually, about 20-30 percent of registered voters turn out for a primary election. Voting commissioners are bracing for a turnout in this election of 60 percent.
“Truthfully, Kansas will be the first bell weather to try to figure out how a state is going to view abortion and abortion law in this post-Dobbs world,” said Greer Donely, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School.
We’ve talked with many Kansas voters, and this issue has activated them as never before. People who’ve never put out a political yard sign are now standing in line to get one. They’re talking about it with their friends and neighbors.
“I’m hoping that everybody understands what this is about,” said Stephen Bieszczat, a Johnson County voter.
That understanding can be a little murky. There are political ads running on TV, radio, and social media. Each side accuses the other of spreading misinformation. “Value Them Both” proponents point out that the amendment does not ban abortion. While that’s true, it is a step toward that goal.
“We support the most ambitious pro-life protections possible that lawmakers can fight for,” said Mallory Carroll with the Susan B. Anthony Organization, a partner with Value Them Both.
If the amendment passes, the Republican supermajority has the votes to demand a special legislative session. Many point to a bill filed last session that would ban abortion. There are no exceptions for rape, incest, or health conditions. It outlines criminal penalties for some pregnant women and doctors, but not in the cases of miscarriage, stillbirths, or ectopic pregnancies.
If the amendment fails, a right to abortion remains part of the Kansas constitution.
“We believe it should be up to a woman and her doctor,” said Ashley All with Kansans for Constitutional Freedom.
Supporters of choice point out abortion in Kansas is already regulated. Women seeking an abortion must receive counseling and wait 24 hours. They must also undergo an ultrasound and be offered the image. They cannot get abortion medication through telehealth, and abortion is limited after 22 weeks unless there is a major medical problem. Currently, parents of minors must be notified if their child is seeking an abortion and public funds can only be used in cases of rape, incest or when a mother’s life is in danger.
More than $15 million has been spent leading up to the vote. Nationwide donations have poured in supporting choice. Meanwhile, Catholic Church organizations have invested more than $3 million through the archdiocese and churches on the anti-abortion side.
“It is absolutely critical that everyone vote in this primary,” said All. “Not just Republicans and Democrats — unaffiliated voters can vote in this primary.”
Here’s a visual of what’s at stake. The states in red have already banned abortion, or a ban is expected shortly.
Missouri’s “trigger law” went into effect right after Roe v. Wade was struck down, meaning women on the Missouri side currently travel to Kansas if they chose abortion. If the amendment passes in Kansas, women in the metro would need to travel to Colorado or Illinois.
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