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Value Them Both amendment reintroduced to Kansas legislature

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 7:00 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Two days into the 2021 legislative session lobbyists and lawmakers are making sure their priorities are heard early in case the session is cut short.

Tuesday, pro-life advocates pushed for lawmakers to revisit an issue from last session.

The Value Them Both Amendment was first introduced in the 2020 session and fell just short of passage.

Now, with conservative Republican supermajorities in both chambers, pro-life activists believe it has a chance to move forward.

The proposed amendment reads as follows:

“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, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”

Jeanne Gawdun, the Director of Government Relations at Kansans for Life, said the amendment is the opportunity for voters to overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling that found the Kansas constitution gives women the right to have an abortion.

“The founding fathers of Kansas did find a way for people to be able to address something that they believe is a very wrong decision,” Gawdun.

“What Value Them Both does restores to the people the right to be able to through their elected representatives and senators to be able to regulate the abortion industry as they have done for the past 20 some years.”

Gawdun said the right of legislators to regulate abortion are at stake if the amendment is not added.

According to Gawdun, issues that could be impacted include: no taxpayer funding for abortion, parental involvement for a minor daughter’s abortion decision, informed consent for abortion, and requiring minimum health and safety standards for abortion facilities.

Gawdun said the amendment reflects the values of Kansans who have shown now would be an opportune time to act on it.

“Kansans have shown that they’re pro life the elections were a great example of that because now we have super majorities even stronger than we had before supermajorities in both chambers who are pro life and support value them both,” she said.

“The sooner that this gets done, the better, because the elections have shown most recently that Kansans are pro-life, they support these regulations on the abortion industry because they do; they sent a historic number of pro life legislators to come and join all those legislators who voted for Value them Both last year and championed it it’s something that needs to get done and get done as quickly as possible.”

Those opposed have brought up concerns about bringing the amendment up again.

In a statement to 13 NEWS, Rachel Sweet, Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes Regional Director of Public Policy and Organizing for Kansas and Missouri said:

“A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and reproductive rights organizations across the state worked together in 2020 to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the right to abortion from the Kansas Constitution. Now, anti-abortion politicians and groups are proposing the same flawed and dangerous legislation in the 2021 session. Those behind this amendment rely on falsehoods and distortions of the truth to justify legislation that can and will lead to an all-out ban on abortion care in the state of Kansas. We’ve seen state legislatures across the country go to great lengths to make abortion care inaccessible or ban it entirely — we cannot let this happen in Kansas. The majority of Kansans support access to safe, legal abortion, and this constitutional amendment is out of step with their values.”

Gawdun disagreed and said until there is action on the amendment, activists will focus on educating voters about it.

“It’s so necessary to be able to continue to have the reasonable regulations on the abortion industry because Kansans don’t want unlimited abortion they don’t want an abortion industry that’s unregulated,” she said.

If the amendment passes with a two thirds majority in both chambers, it will appear on the ballot in the 2022 primary election for voters to decide if it will be added to the state constitution.

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