TOPEKA— Republicans on Friday pushed a proposed pro-life amendment to the Kansas Constitution through the state House on the 48th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision protecting abortion rights.
Governor Laura Kelly immediately responded to the news with a warning.
“I’ve always believed that every woman’s reproductive decisions should be left to her, her family, and her physician. While I know others do not share my belief, I don’t think those supporting this amendment are aware of the consequences it will have for the state of Kansas and our reputation.
“We already know how this ends – North Carolina’s notorious bathroom bill cost that state nearly $4 billion in economic development – and this amendment has the same potential to do irreparable damage to our COVID-19 economic recovery efforts and our long-term prospects to recruit businesses and workforce talent.”
The measure was approved 86-38, giving abortion opponents two votes more than the two-thirds majority necessary for passage. It goes next to the Senate for debate, possibly next week.
The proposal would overturn a Kansas Supreme Court decision in 2019 declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state’s Bill of Rights. It would declare that the state constitution does not grant a right to abortion.
Abortion opponents argued that the measure would simply allow the Legislature to regulate abortion as it has in the past and in line with U.S. Supreme Court decisions.
Abortion rights supporters argued that the measure would allow Kansas to ban abortion if a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
If the measure is approved by two-thirds majorities in both chambers, it would go on the August 2022 primary ballot. Critics said abortion opponents are choosing that timing because the smaller primary electorate tends to be more conservative than a broader November general electorate.