“I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.” — Ronald Reagan, “A Time for Choosing”, 1964.
On Feb. 7, the House of Representatives fell four votes short of passing the Value Them Both Constitutional Amendment. I led the Senate effort to send the Amendment to the people, where 28 of 40 senators stood with me to support women and babies and allow voters to decide.
But the pot started boiling long before newspaper headlines and social media started splashing dramatic one-liners depicting a figurative war within the Statehouse. Our state Supreme Court overreached last year when its ruling on Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt opened the door to strike down every reasonable abortion restriction in Kansas.
The Value Them Both Amendment was the people’s opportunity to respond and continue to allow elected officials to do their jobs.
As a champion of many of Kansas’ abortion restrictions, including the ban on dismemberment abortion, parental consent and the Women’s Right to Know Act, I needed to act. Elected representatives approved these laws and now a court decision could bring about their demise. Many of the 15 pieces of legislation passed were, in fact, passed with a pro-choice majority. They are reasonable regulations approved by Kansans.
Meanwhile, we have Medicaid expansion waiting in the wings, already moving through the legislative process. So, let’s put aside the fact that Medicaid expansion is simply the latest attempt to bring government-run, socialized medicine into our communities. Let’s put aside the fact that Medicaid is already a broken system with waiting lists and few provider options. Let’s even put aside the explosion of costs on middle class Kansans’ premiums.
As a result of the Court’s ruling, Gov. Kelly’s Medicaid expansion plan would open Pandora’s Box to state-funded abortions right here in Kansas.
The Senate Public Health Committee heard new testimony this week from Paul Benjamin Linton, a constitutional attorney with 20 published law review articles, who said there is “a virtual certainty the Kansas restrictions on public funding of abortion” would be struck down. In his opinion, Medicaid expansion should be stopped until a constitutional provision can block taxpayer-funded abortions.
Chuck Weber, of the Kansas Catholic Conference, pointed out “abortion is currently a Medicaid-covered expense in 16 states,” including Connecticut, where 75% of all abortions in 2018 were paid for by state tax dollars. That is three of every four Connecticut abortions, at a cost of over $4 million to taxpayers.
I am proud that I immediately referred several pieces of legislation, which could be used as a vehicle for Medicaid expansion, back to committee. When Value Them Both failed in the House, the legislative landscape changed. Decisions had to be made quickly in order to slow down the process and discover relevant new facts.
When nicely phrased, I am being called an alarmist. No, I am a realist who understands the law and the implications of the laws we enact.
Someone needs to be a voice for those who are voiceless, a defender of those who are defenseless! Kansas will not become like Connecticut on my watch.
“There are no easy answers but there are simple ones. We must all have the courage to do what we know is morally right.” — Ronald Reagan, “A Time for Choosing”, 1964.
Susan Wagle is the Kansas Senate president and a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate.