Abortion amendment will not appear on ballot until 2022

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

The Value Them Both amendment recently passed in the Kansas House of Representatives and Kansas Senate with the required two-thirds majority votes. But voters in Leavenworth County will have to wait more than a year before they have the opportunity to help decide the fate of the proposed amendment to the state Constitution.

The issue will not be put before voters across the state until August 2022 primary election.

If approved by voters, the amendment would add language to the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights stating “there is no Kansas constitutional right to abortion or to require the government funding of abortion.” The amendment also would affirm the Legislature’s ability to pass laws to regulate abortion to the extent allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

The proposed amendment is a response to a 2019 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court in which the state’s highest court ruled abortion is a state constitutional right.

The amendment was proposed last year but failed to garner the necessary votes in the Kansas of House of Representatives.

This year, the measure passed in the House with a two-thirds majority on Jan. 22.

The four Republican members of the House who represent Leavenworth County – Reps. Pat Proctor, David French, Tim Johnson and Lance Neelly – voted in favor of the amendment.

Proctor said the amendment, if passed by voters, will take the state back to where it was before the 2019 state Supreme Court decision.

“It doesn’t ban abortion,” he said. “It just restores our rights.”

Proctor said the Kansas Supreme Court decision stripped the people of Kansas of their right, through their legislators, to place common sense regulations on abortion. He said existing requirements such as parental notification in cases involving teens and bans on taxpayer funding for abortion are at risk if the amendment is not approved.

The amendment passed with a two-thirds majority Thursday in the Kansas Senate.

The two Democratic members of the Senate who represent Leavenworth County – Sens. Jeff Pittman and Tom Holland – voted against the measure.

Pittman said he voted against the amendment because it does not include language granting exceptions for cases involving the life of a mother or rape and incest. Pittman said he believes the amendment should include basic protections he feels most Kansans would agree with.

“We could have come up with compromise language but there was an unwillingness to compromise at all from the people voting for it,” he said.

Pittman said he believes there may have been political motivation behind delaying the public vote on the amendment until next year when there will be major state elections.

Proctor thinks waiting until August 2022 will provide plenty of time for people to be accurately informed about the proposed amendment.

“Because there is a lot of misinformation out there right now,” he said.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR