Kansans to weigh in on abortion rights issue in next year’s primary election

Kansans to vote on abortion rights next year
Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:10 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Abortion rights aren’t just up for debate in the U.S. Supreme Court, they could soon change in Kansas, too. At the heart of the federal case known as “Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization,” is a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. A decision is expected before next summer.

On ballots in the state next August during the primary election, there will be a question asking if the state constitution should be amended to allow lawmakers to regulate abortion services.

Eyewitness News took a closer look at what the amendment could mean for Kansas women and spoke with people on both sides of the issue.

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Wednesday signaled they would allow states to ban abortion much earlier in pregnancy and may even overturn the nationwide right that has existed for nearly 50 years.

While rallies take place outside the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday, Elise Higgins with the Kansas Abortion Fund fears this decision will negatively impact women in the state.

“When somebody needs to end the pregnancy, they need to have access to safe medical care,” Higgins said. “Not restrictions and access to barriers that make access even harder.”

It’s not the only ruling that could impact abortion services in Kansas. Voters will decide next year whether they’re constitutionally protected. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the state’s bill of rights protects a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy.

“Regardless of what happens at the federal level, regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court of the United States, whatever decision they hand out, the abortion industry in Kansas is unlimited and unregulatable until and unless we pass the Value of Them Both Amendment,” Kansans For Life Communications Director Danielle Underwood said.

Underwood said before the ruling there were about 20 laws regarding abortion services in Kansas, including 24-hour waiting periods, and requiring parental consent for minors.

Voting for this new amendment would reinstate those and allow lawmakers to pass additional laws regulating abortions.

“This is a very moderate position to be taking,” Underwood said. “We want to make sure we do not lose those 20-plus laws we’ve had on the books. All of them were passed with the support of both Republicans and Democrats and are broadly supported by Kansans.”

The amendment itself does not ban abortions. But Higgins fears if it does pass, it will pave the way for Republican lawmakers to make access to safe abortions more difficult for women in Kansas.

“The agenda that’s happening in the Supreme Court is really the same agenda that’s happening in Kansas, which is to pave the way for banning abortion outright,” she said.

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