Interest was high at the Legislative hearing discussing the “Value Them Both” pro-life constitutional amendment to the Kansas State Constitution. A recent Kansas House and Senate Federal and State Affairs Joint Committee hearing focused on a constitutional amendment to reverse the Kansas Supreme court decision, Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt. In this decision, the high court upheld a temporary injunction striking the Kansas ban on live dismemberment abortion. They also surprisingly found the right to an abortion in the Kansas State Constitution.
The pro-life women testifying for the amendment faced public ridicule, according to an editorial in the Kansas City Star. When Elizabeth Kirk, a noted legal scholar, testified in support of the amendment, explaining the content of the Supreme Court decision, one Democrat legislator, Rep. John Carmichael, responded with mocking, “You tell us that you are a constitutional law scholar and that you taught law somewhere.”
Carmichael demanded that she cite where in the world she got the idea that the strict scrutiny standard is so tough. Ms. Kirk promptly provided her documentation. When Ms. Kirk accidentally knocked over the podium, he ridiculed her, crying out, “Good job!”
When Brittany Jones, a young conservative lobbyist for the Family Policy Alliance, finished her testimony, Carmichael said in a snarky tone, “Thank you for your wisdom.”
Despite the public ridicule, the women from the pro-life coalition were poised and clearly presented their testimony recommending a constitutional amendment,
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.
Tennessee faced a similar problem when their Supreme Court found the right to abortion in their constitution, and their state pro-life 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 came together and won the public vote in a close election.
In 2018, West Virginia voters passed a pro-life state constitutional amendment after decades of being forced by a court ruling to fund elective abortions with taxpayer dollars. Iowa, Kentucky, and Louisiana are all considering pro-life amendments to their state constitutions.
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.
The joint committee the next day, following a public pro-life rally, recommended that the legislature send a constitutional amendment to the people for a vote, with this wording: “Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, in circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
In response to the court’s abortion decision, a group of pro-life women has started a new grassroots group called Save The Babies focused just on this issue. If you know of a group that would like to schedule an educational speaker, send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 also get update information on this issue by texting SAVETHEBABIES to 22828.
UPDATE: In late January, the Kansas Senate voted 28-12 in favor of the measure, surpassing the two-thirds majority needed. The resolutions now moves to the Kansas House of Representatives.
–Joe Patton is a Topeka Personal Injury Lawyer and Senior Partner of Patton and Patton, Chartered.