Constitutional Freedom group opposes abortion amendment in Kansas Aug. 2 ballot
TOPEKA — Retired Presbyterian minister Jay McKell believes in the idea that God wants women to freely exercise their right to make decisions about abortion without undue government intrusion.
The Roe v. Wade of the United States Supreme Court establishing a national right to abortion 50 years ago and subsequent action by the Kansas Legislature to regulate abortion shaped a balanced approach through which women could determine whether they had to carry a pregnancy to term, he said.
McKell said he opposes the proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution in the Aug. 2 ballot. It was designed to overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court finding that the State’s Bill of Rights guaranteed women the fundamental right to bodily autonomy and to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including including abortion.
The passage of the state constitutional amendment, the reversal of the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and the legislature’s passage of new abortion restrictions could force women out of Kansas to seek family planning services.
“I’ve spent much of my professional life as a pastor working with families on a wide variety of issues — ethical issues, moral issues,” McKell said on the Kansas Reflector podcast. “I don’t think a woman easily approaches a choice…about abortion.”
“Forcing a woman out of state is contrary to the way I think God wants the world to be. We are created to live in community and family, in the neighborhood, in church, among friends. Forcing a woman faced with a very difficult decision to travel in a foreign setting, anywhere, is tantamount to denying her the setting in which I think God wants us to make decisions,” he said.
Registered Kansas voters participating in the August primary will decide whether or not to add the abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution. Proponents of the amendment say the goal was to reassert the Kansas legislature’s central authority over abortion regulation in the state, which could also deter legal challenges to laws restricting abortion.
Opponents of the Kansas amendment see it as a step toward banning abortion in the state or a path toward medically irrelevant regulations that inflict undue emotional or physical harm on people seeking abortion care. abortion.
Ashley All, representing the bipartisan Kansans Organization for Constitutional Freedom, said the Roe v. Wade reports would fall before the vote on the August abortion amendment, which is an unprecedented moment in the consideration of the abortion rights in Kansas.
“It definitely increases the importance and urgency of this particular amendment,” All said. “This reinforces how critical it is that we stop this constitutional amendment in Kansas and ensure that women in Kansas have the right to make these personal health care decisions without government interference.”
The “Value Them Both” amendment was proposed in 2020, but failed to gain the required two-thirds majority in the Kansas House to be added to statewide ballots. In 2021, the legislature secured supermajorities to put it on the ballot.
Kansas for Lifea pro-life organization, developed the Election Integrity and Voting Rights Project to build grassroots momentum for the amendment. Representative Blake Carpenter, a Republican from Derby, has been appointed KFL Election Project Director.
“With the upcoming election so critical for future generations, we must continue to use all the tools at our disposal and ensure that every legal vote counts,” Carpenter said.
A vote against the amendment would mean that no provision of the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights could be interpreted to create an abortion right in Kansas.
A vote for the amendment would declare that no abortion rights existed in Kansas and the legislature had the power to pass any law regarding the procedure, including whether abortion would be permitted to save a woman’s life. pregnant woman or in cases where a woman was the victim of rape or incest.
All said a ban on abortion without exception was out of step with most Kansans. A poll by the Docking Institute of Public Affairs at Fort Hays State University indicated that 60% of Kansas residents believe there should be some access to abortion care in the state, she said. declared.
“The amendment very specifically gives politicians the power to pass any law they wish regarding abortion, including a complete ban,” All said. “In the amendment, it is clearly stated that they can regulate or pass laws regarding abortion, including but not limited to situations of rape, incest. And so we give politicians control of these decisions, instead of leaving them to the Kansans.
Ban almost all abortions
Rep. Trevor Jacobs, R-Fort Scott, introduced a bill in the 2022 legislative session that would criminalize abortion unless the procedure is associated with an ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, or stillbirth. Medical professionals who perform abortions, including abortions with the use of the pill, would be prosecuted on the same basis as women who have abortions. His bill offered no exceptions for rape, incest or conditions threatening the life of a mother.
In 2019, during a House debate on medically induced abortions, Jacobs said it was impossible to enjoy God-given civil and religious privileges “if Kansas continues to allow the killing of helpless babies in the uterus”.
McKell, the retired Presbyterian minister, said politicians should not undermine the liberty interests of women who decide personal matters of health, ethics and religion.
“The church teaches us that God respects women, trusts women,” he said. “I think the current law in Kansas does exactly that. It respects a woman’s right to make decisions about her life, just as the church does. I wish it would stay that way. »
He said the Bible does not contain scriptures revealing the good or bad of abortion. Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament condemns abortion, he said.
“It is clear from the Christian context that what takes precedence over all dimensions of our existence is the teaching of love,” McKell said. “I think that leads to loving a woman and her ability to decide for herself.”