The constitutional amendment in Kansas was defeated in Tuesday’s election. Amendment 2, named “Value Them Both,” aimed to overturn a controversial Kansas Supreme Court decision in 2019 that declared access to abortion a “fundamental right” under the Kansas bill of rights.
The amendment was the country’s first referendum on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Roe vs. Wade decision unconstitutional in June.
The high-profile vote drew pro-abortion activists from across the nation to the Sunflower state and millions in outside PAC money to defeat it. More importantly, in what some saw as an act of intimidation toward supporters, churches and pro-life clinics were targeted with vandalism across the state.
As of Wednesday morning, Value Them Both was defeated 59% to 41% with the state’s largest media markets, Wichita and Kansas City suburban votes tipping the balance in the traditionally conservative state.
Media outlets from Forbes and Fox News to NPR falsely claimed the amendment “banned” abortion when clearly it did not. Even as the votes were coming in Tuesday night, Bret Baier, host of Fox’s Special Report, again repeated the claim it “banned” abortion leaving Sean Hannity a bit bewildered as he attempted to correct the mistake.
The amendment was supported by a coalition of pro-life groups, including Kansans for Life as well as churches and pro-family organizations. It also had the broad support of hundreds of physicians and nurses. Medical representatives from the fields of neurosurgery, cardiology, anesthesia, surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, pathology, emergency medicine, and other essential specialties, pharmacists, and licensed psychotherapists and counselors rounded out the coalition.
Opponents of the amendment were jubilant at its defeat.
“Tonight, we celebrate,” Rachel Sweet, campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the primary anti-amendment group, told an Overland Park election watch party. “We celebrate that our constitution will continue to protect the personal autonomy of women and men. We also recommit to continuing to share the importance of abortion access rights and reproductive health care.”
At the pro-amendement election return watch party, Peter Northcott, executive director of Kansans for Life, delivered the Value Them Both Coalition concession speech. He stated that pro-life groups “are not going anywhere.”
“This setback is not going to stop us,” Northcott said. “Our resolve has never been stronger than in this very moment.”
Kansans for Life issued a follow-up statement Wednesday, again expressing disappointment and calling out media coverage and misinformation they say defeated a very reasonable amendment. The wording of the amendment was pretty clear, saying it will “reserve to the people of Kansas, through their elected state legislators, the right to pass laws to regulate 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 essence, it said the people through their elected representatives, had the right to make decisions about abortion. Now, with its defeat, the “right” to abortion, only in the Kansas Constitution since the state’s Supreme Court discovered it there in 2019, will remain.
That’s a huge setback for the state’s pro-life community, which has spent a year preparing for the vote. Observers say it most likely would have passed if it were not for the high-profile Roe decision in June.
“Over the last six months, Kansans endured an onslaught of misinformation from radical left organizations that spent millions of out-of-state dollars to spread lies about the Value Them Both Amendment.
“Sadly, the mainstream media propelled the left’s false narrative, contributing to the confusion that misled Kansans about the amendment,” Danielle Underwood, communications director for Kansans for Life, said. “While the outcome is not what we hoped, our movement and campaign have proven our resolve and commitment. We will not abandon women and babies.”
The amendment may have been the most expensive in Kansas history while also bringing out a record number of voters for what is generally a sleepy August primary. Over $13 million was spent by both sides of the debate. While turnout was heavy across the state, some counties saw participation rates in excess of 65%.
The Value Them Both coalition says the outcome is a temporary setback. “Our dedicated fight to value women and babies is far from over. As our state becomes an abortion destination, it will be even more important for Kansans to support our pregnancy resource centers, post-abortive ministries, and other organizations that provide supportive care to women facing unexpected pregnancies. We will be back,” the organization said in a statement
Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, expressed disappointment that the state’s elected representatives would not be able to reinstitute a first-in-the-nation ban late-term abortion, one of the restrictions paused by the courts.
She said another amendment was possible but it was too soon to say what that might look like. “Is that something that the legislature in the future will do? Obviously, yes, they will,” Baumgardner said. “What issues they will address? That is yet to be seen.”
Underwood, with KFL, was optimistic.