OPINION

Kansans must pass Value Them Both to prevent Kansas from becoming New York

Renee Erickson
Special to Gannett Kansas
Renee Erickson

Article 1 of the Bill of Rights of the Kansas Constitution says, “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

In 2019, Kansans were shocked when six of the seven justices on the Kansas Supreme Court declared that the provision, written in 1859, included an unlimited right to abortion. The underlying case, Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt, was before the Court because the abortion industry wanted to protect its right to perform a procedure that had been banned with overwhelming bipartisan support by a law in 2015.

Yet the Kansas Supreme Court struck down the law, citing Article 1 in its ruling as justification. As Justice Caleb Stegall said so profoundly in his dissent, “(T)he story told by the majority is a strange one. In it, all the luminaries of the western legal tradition—from Sir Edward Coke and William Blackstone to Edmund Burke and Thomas Jefferson— would celebrate and enshrine a right to nearly unfettered abortion access.”

The consequences of the decision are appalling. Due to the legal standard that the Kansas Supreme Court adopted in its decision, every law the Legislature has passed over the past 25 years protecting women and the unborn is now in jeopardy.

This includes laws banning the state government from using your tax dollars to fund abortion, establishing safety standards at abortion clinics, requiring parental notification for minors seeking abortion and guaranteeing that women have access to critical information when considering abortion. Each of these laws were supported by wide bipartisan majorities and surveys indicated they are backed by the vast majority of Kansans.

Put simply, the Court is trying to force Kansas to become New York, where any abortion for any reason is allowed up until the moment of birth. Extreme abortion-rights activists are already citing Kansas as some type of tourist attraction for women seeking abortions.

To prevent this practice, the Kansas Legislature adopted the Value Them Both Amendment, an amendment to the Kansas Constitution which, if passed by the voters, would return the power to the people’s representatives in the Kansas Legislature to continue to adopt lifesaving protections for both the women and the unborn.

The beauty of the Kansas system is that you, the voter, will have the opportunity to renew your support for these protections next August, when the Value Them Both Amendment will be on your primary ballot.

Over the next 10 months, much ink will be spilled and fear mongered by those affiliated with the abortion industry. In truth, the Value Them Both Amendment will do exactly what its name implies — it will affirm that the laws we have adopted over a quarter century will continue to be allowed to value both women and the unborn. I know Kansans will join me in voting Yes.

Renee Erickson is a Kansas senator from Wichita.