Your Turn: The future of reproductive choice in Kansas is at risk

The recent article “Women are Coming to Kansas for abortions — but that could end soon” describes in detail just some of the agonizingly difficult obstacles people must endure trying to access abortion. Kansas clinics swamped with people from Texas seeking abortion care, now practically unattainable in their own state. A shortage of abortion providers. The stifling state regulations. The mental anguish of all the above.

Added to these burdens is the anti-choice constitutional amendment that would rewrite our constitution to say there is no right to abortion in Kansas, even in the cases of rape or incest. Should Kansas voters pass this amendment on Aug. 2, on the heels of the likely overturning by the U.S. Supreme Court of Roe v. Wade this summer, it will take us down a treacherous path. We are on edge.

The Kansas Abortion Fund finds itself at the precipice of a fight that’s been a long time coming. We are a small but mighty organization of volunteers. We have unwavering resolve. Since 1996 we have worked in concert with Planned Parenthood Great Plains, Trust Women, and the Center for Women’s Health, funding abortions for marginalized Kansas residents who are often underpaid, struggling with food insecurity and facing eviction.

KAF was highly effective in 2021. We helped fund abortions for 391 Kansans in need, ranging in age from 15 to 45, from 48 of our 105 counties. Each person we supported made their own deeply personal choice that deserves respect and support. Currently, it’s lower income people — often people of color due to structural racism — who can’t afford what is theoretically a right guaranteed to all.

It’s not a coincidence that anti-abortion politicians are stripping away abortion rights and voting access at the same time. They know if you can’t vote, you can’t stop them from making bad abortion policies. This is how structural racism and oppression works — by keeping marginalized communities from influencing decisions that affect them most.

We often receive messages from patients that touch our hearts and motivate us to work harder, such as this one: “I am a United States Marine Corps combat veteran and that itself is hard enough. Without you and your fund, I would’ve given up hope. I cannot express how grateful I am. I can live a happy life and wait for the right time to have a baby. I’m so glad you understand. Thank you so much. God bless. Semper Fi.”

All historical eras have an identity that memorializes key events of the period. The Supreme Court ruling this summer followed by the vote in Kansas on Aug. 2 are era-defining moments with social and political implications for the entire country.

While we do not provide practical support or funding (travel, hotel, child care) to folks from other states, people can donate to all Texas assistance organizations at once by going to NeedAbortion.org. You can help Kansans access abortion by donating to KansasAbortionFund.org.

Each of you can make such a difference. Rally friends and family to join you in this crucial effort.

Let’s be clear: Kansans deserve the right to make their own personal, private medical decisions without legislator interference, and our constitutional right to make a decision for our bodies, our lives and our futures should never be up for a vote.

— Sandy Brown, of Lawrence, is the president of Kansas Abortion Fund.

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