The Kansas Senate voted on Wednesday to approve the No Right to Abortion in Constitution Amendment (Senate Concurrent Resolution 1613), with a 28 to 12 margin. This is one vote above the two-thirds requirement needed in both chambers to move the amendment to the ballot. All Senate Republicans, except for Representative John Skubal from District 11, voted in favor of the amendment. All Senate Democrats voted against it.
The amendment would add a new section to the end of the Kansas Bill of Rights that states there is no right in the state constitution to an abortion or to public funding for abortions. It would also add the following language: “To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, in circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
The amendment was sponsored by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is referred to as the “Value Them Both Amendment” by proponents. It was introduced in the state House on Thursday. In order to meet the two-thirds threshold in the House, 84 of the 125 members must approve the measure. The current partisan composition in the House is 84 Republicans and 25 Democrats.
If the amendment is approved by the state House, the measure will appear on Kansas primary ballots on August 4, 2020.
Following the Senate vote, state representative Susan Humphries, a Republican from Wichita, said, “Do you want to keep these regulations that we had in place in March of 2019? If you do, then vote ‘yes’ on this amendment because it will put the decision back on the people of Kansas through their elected officials to be able to regulate this industry.”
In response to the Senate vote, Kansas Governor Laura Kelly (D) said, “I fear for a future in which the Legislature chooses to stand between a woman and her doctor. This would throw the state back into the Dark Ages.”
The amendment is the legislative response to the 2019 Kansas Supreme Court case, Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt, which concluded that there is a right to an abortion in the Kansas Bill of Rights.
As of 2019, three states had constitutional amendments declaring that their constitutions do not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion. The first state to pass a constitutional amendment was Tennessee in 2014. In 2018, Alabama and West Virginia passed constitutional amendments. Voters in Louisiana will also decide a constitutional amendment concerning abortion in 2020. It would state that “nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”