A split in the pro-life movement was evident during a recent joint Kansas House and Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee hearing. The legislative committee focused on a Kansas Supreme court decision, Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt, where the high court struck the Kansas ban on live dismemberment abortion.
Women from Kansans for Life, the Catholic Conference, Concerned Women for America, and the Family Policy Alliance all presented testimony recommending a constitutional amendment to reverse the court’s ruling, which found the right to an abortion in the Kansas State Constitution. On the other hand, Bruce Garren, chairman of Personhood Kansas, will only support an amendment that would declare that all unborn children are persons, which he believes would effectively ban all abortions.
Over 29 pro-life laws have been passed in Kansas over the years, which pro-life groups say resulted in 17,000 fewer abortions being performed. None of these 29 prolife laws ban all abortions, so Personhood Kansas opposes this approach calling it incrementalism because it does not ban all abortions.
Some, like Bruce Garren, in the pro-life movement would oppose a constitutional amendment if it just reverses the court decision. Others in the pro-life movement are saying if a pro-life amendment doesn’t poll with over 60% public support, it should not be introduced, claiming it is a waste of time and money. The National Right to Life Committee in the past has generally discouraged its affiliate groups from promoting statewide referendums, pointing out that from 1978 to 2012 only eight prolife statewide campaigns across the country have won, and 30 have lost.
Tennessee faced a similar problem when their Supreme Court found the right to abortion, and the prolife group proposed an amendment that reversed the decision. The process in Tennessee took ten years, during which the prolife group spent over one million dollars promoting the amendment, but they united and won the public vote in a close election. The Tennessee group took their advice from Right to Life of Michigan that has won three out of four statewide referendums.
Planned Parenthood, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, ACLU of Kansas, and the MainStream Coalition were all united in their opposition to any constitutional amendment, saying the people should not be allowed to vote on the issue.
The committee recommended that the legislature send a constitutional amendment to the people for a vote, without suggesting any particular language.
In response to the court’s abortion decision, a group of pro-life women has started a new grassroots group called Save The Babies. You can find the group on Facebook at @SaveTheBabies.Life, where they explain the court’s abortion decision, why you should be alarmed, and what you can do about it. You can get more information by texting SAVETHEBABIES to 22828.