Kansas constitution protects abortion rights; perhaps not for much longer

Thing I learned today from reading the always excellent Popular.Info from Judd Legum:

In Kansas, abortion is still legal. In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that “the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects a woman’s access to abortion.” The court found that  Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects “every person’s right to personal autonomy—and this right enables a woman to make decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life, including the decision whether to continue a pregnancy.” 

That could change soon. 

On August 2, citizens in Kansas will vote on an amendment to Kansas’ Constitution. The measure, Resolution No. 5003, would “amend the bill of rights to the constitution of the state of Kansas” to state that “there is no constitutional right to abortion,” while “reserving to the people the ability to regulate abortion through the elected members of the legislature.” The amendment, which is known to supporters as “Value Them Both,” was put on the ballot in early 2021 when it was approved by both chambers of the state legislature. 

If approved, it would open the door for Kansas’ Republican-dominated legislature to ban or severely restrict abortion. 

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) opposes the amendment and supports protecting abortion rights, but she is up for reelection in the fall. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), who is expected to be the Republican nominee for governor, has already said he plans to vote yes on the amendment, and that he “prefer[s] a future with less abortion[s].” 

The implications of the vote could reverberate far beyond Kansas’ borders. 

The Catholic Archdioceses in Wichita and Kansas City have given a combined total in 2021 of $750,000 of $1.2 million raised last year. (Exact figures for this year are not yet available.)

I’m can’t get too worked up about official Catholic involvement in all of this. These prelates represent a lot of Catholics, and if lay Catholics didn’t support how each archdiocese is spending their money on politics, they can join another church.

But the dollar figures are interesting because they are so high. The Catholic Church knows that if voters in Kansas, of all places, were to keep in place that state’s constitutional protections for abortion, it would only feed into the perception that banning abortion is not popular with a majority of Americans. And that banning it altogether is basically a power grab by anti-abortion forces who have had to use the Supreme Court to achieve what they could not accomplish in legislatures or at the ballot box.

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