Abortion ban, other proposals likely to fail in Kansas. Why are lawmakers still pushing them?

Katie Bernard, The Kansas City Star on

Published in Political News

Despite a broad acknowledgment their efforts will go nowhere, some conservative Kansas lawmakers are pushing to ban abortion or put the issue back on the ballot despite a landslide vote in favor of abortion rights last year.

Some of the Kansas House’s most conservative members have backed a new constitutional amendment removing the state’s right to abortion and a bill to criminalize the procedure. Supporters say they are motivated by opposition to abortion in their home districts, despite the low likelihood of success.

Rep. Randy Garber, a Sabetha Republican who introduced a new constitutional amendment removing the state-level right to an abortion, said he is convinced Kansas’ August vote, which was decided on a 19-point margin, was not representative of broad public opinion.

“I was really surprised at the margin,” Garber said. “I had people talk to me all the time up until they voted saying, ‘Well what does this really mean?’”

Even if Kansans broadly support access to abortion, Garber said, his constituents in far northeast Kansas voted for the amendment.

Despite the low chance of success the legislation garnered immediate backlash.


“Changing the wording of the amendment does not change the position of Kansans, nor does it change the fact that these lawmakers are trying to ban abortion outright,” said Ashley All, the former spokeswoman for “vote no” campaign Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. “It’s time politicians in Topeka stop wasting time and tax dollars and instead focus on making Kansas a better place for mothers and families.”

On Wednesday six lawmakers, including Garber, introduced a bill criminalizing abortion. The bill banned abortion in all instances, including when the life of the mother was at risk. The legislation specifically said abortion procedures were permissible to save the life of a fetus or remove the remains of a fetus in the instance of a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

The bill is all but certain to run afoul of the state’s constitutional right to an abortion.

House Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, said Thursday he hadn’t heard of the legislation or constitutional amendment and was focused instead on providing funding for crisis pregnancy centers.


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