Wichita anti-abortion activist Bruce Garren didn't mince words Thursday while pressing legislators to support an amendment to the Bill of Rights of the state constitution to end legal abortion in Kansas.
"Every day we delay in standing boldly against this heinous crime against humanity," he said, "is one more day that child sacrifice becomes the norm in our once great state. By ignoring it, we treat the Lord's commandment with contempt."
Garren, who works with Personhood Kansas and has picketed abortion clinics for decades, said House Concurrent Resolution 5004 would alter the Kansas Constitution to explicitly declare the inalienable right to life of every human being from the "beginning of their biological development, including fertilization."
Julie Burkhart, founder and chief executive officer of Trust Women, which provides abortion services, told the House Federal and State Affairs Committee the proposed amendment endorsed by 21 all-male sponsors in the House was "blatantly unconstitutional."
She said an amendment written to ban discrimination against any class of person couldn't be accurate or truthful if it invaded a Kansas woman's medical privacy and denied women their individual rights.
"There is no way to give embryos personhood rights without infringing on the rights of pregnant women," Burkhart said.
The House committee didn't take action on the resolution, which would require two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate to earn a place on a statewide ballot in Kansas.
The landmark Roe v. Wade decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which recognized a woman's constitutional right to an abortion, clarified a state's effort to protect fetal life could hold similar weight to a woman's right to privacy past the point of viability where a fetus could live outside the uterus.
Margaret Mans, representing Right to Life of Kansas, told House members the constitutional resolution would put an end to the legal lie a baby was "just a blob of tissue" and no longer allow human life to be unnaturally ripped from a woman's body to leave a lifetime of psychological and, often, physical damage.
"Forty-seven years of abortion in Kansas has taken a toll on us," she said. "Life has been devalued and we're seeing increasing murder and suicide rates."
Bria Boykins, testifying on behalf of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said the proposal touted by Mans and Garren was radical because it would treat fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses as if they were legally and physically independent of women who carry them.
She said there was a possibility passage of the amendment would deny pregnant women routine protections of state law, including doctor-patient confidentiality, and expose women to prosecution under criminal statutes that touch upon the terms "human being" or "child."
"In the guise of adding one group to the Kansas constitutional population, it will do something unprecedented in U.S. history: Subtract another group," she said.