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After its decision Tuesday, Kansas is now the first state in the United States to leave the fate of the issue of abortion to its voters.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, laying out the foundation of the legalization of abortion, the country was divided into several factions – those who support Roe v. Wade and those who don’t.
The carefully monitored voting by citizens of Kansas is the first initiative that leaves the decision of whether to carry out the Court’s decision to popular voting. The voting will also give authorities a peek at what the citizens think of the Supreme Court’ decision to overturn the legal implications of Roe v. Wade.
This would also benefit parties, more specifically Democrats, on the sentiments of the majority regarding the case – which could be material to the midterm elections.
Voters will be asked if they support the amendment of the state constitution which removes the right to abortion. This is done despite differences in political affiliation. Currently, in Kansas, abortion is legal up to 22 weeks after conception. People from Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas have traveled to Kansas to access the services despite the heavy pressure from Republicans to fend off abortion processes across states.
Voters are informed: “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.”
What happens if the majority votes “yes”
If the majority decides to say “Yes” to the questions, it would mean that they agree that the state constitution be amended and it “does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.”
While not totally banning abortion, it would compel legislation to pass strict laws in accordance to the SC’s decision that bans abortion at all stages of pregnancy – even in cases of rape and incest. This would also mean that challenging abortion measures enforced will be difficult for cause-oriented organizations that otherwise believe in the Roe v. Wade decision.
“The amendment that is on the ballot will mandate government control over our private medical decisions and ultimately pave the way for a total ban on abortion,” said Ashley All, a member of the Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, a coalition that disagrees with the amendment.
What a “No” majority vote mean
Should the “No” vote win, abortion processes within the state would remain legal up to 22 weeks and the state constitution will not be changed. However, even with this, the state legislation could still pass laws that restrict abortion. Only that the scrutiny of the law would be tighter and stricter.
At the current time, the state courts still recognize the legality of abortion. In 2015, there was a legislation aimed at banning several abortion procedures, but it was blocked by the courts.
Three years ago, the Kansas state Supreme Court ruled out in favor of abortion, saying that the right is protected under Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights that provides, “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The coalition behind the amendment
While popular sentiments lean towards the retainment of the state constitution’s provision on abortion, coalitions like Value Them Both, led by Kansans for Life, the Kansas Catholic Conference and Kansas Family Voice have voiced out the opposite.
“Kansans want to ensure that moms and babies are protected. So, Kansans are very concerned about this push to make us an unlimited destination for abortion,” said Brittany Jones, a lawyer.
The amendment was prepared for years, said the coalition.