Editorial: Vote ‘No’ on Kansas’ constitutional abortion amendement

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

Trust me, I’m from the government.

Who would have thought conservatives would rally around that statement, but it appears many are. Conservatives who are urging passage of an amendment to remove the right to an abortion from the Kansas Constitution are asking people to place an extraordinary amount of trust in government.

Pregnant women who have a medical emergency and need to terminate a pregnancy to save their own lives will need to be particularly trusting. That’s because the “Value Them Both” amendment that is on the Aug. 2 statewide ballot removes any right to an abortion, including an abortion needed to save the life of the mother.

Now, supporters of the amendment most certainly will tell you that such abortions can proceed in Kansas, even if this amendment is approved. That is true. They can proceed. As long as there is a state law that says abortions to protect the life of a mother are allowed, such procedures will be legal in Kansas.

On the other hand, if a majority of Kansas legislators decide they don’t think that should be the case, a state law outlawing such abortions also is possible. But, hey, why would anyone pass a law that would require a mother to give birth even if her medical doctor says the birth is likely to kill her?

Government would never do that. Trust us.

If you are a woman who someday may become pregnant, would you like a little more assurance than that?

Such assurances certainly are possible, and you don’t have to believe abortion should be entirely unregulated in order to receive them. This very amendment that is on the Aug. 2 ballot could have been written in a way to guarantee a constitutional right to an abortion if the life of the mother is at risk. But the writers of the amendment intentionally did not do so.

The amendment says “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, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”

That sentence describes the opposite of a constitutional right. It describes a process where elected politicians will decide whether and when it shall be legal to have an abortion to save the life of a mother. It doesn’t have to be that way. A simple sentence in this very amendment could have granted a woman such a constitutional right — and the peace of mind that comes with it.

What does it say that the writers of this amendment chose not to do that? Do you think the writers of this amendment would have ever proposed a constitutional amendment that said a man has no constitutional right to defend himself if another man has a gun pointed at him? Would they have been fine turning that decision over to a group of elected politicians to determine whether a man can legally protect himself in that way?

Surely that would never fly. Men aren’t that trusting. Maybe women shouldn’t be.

Women, and men who care for them, can start by voting no on the Value Them Both amendment. If you believe in a broad right to abortion, you have any number of reasons to vote against this amendment.

But, if like many, you have concerns about certain types of abortion procedures, you may still have one reason to vote against this particular amendment and ask supporters to rewrite it. The reason is a simple one: Any amendment that doesn’t give a woman a constitutional right to end a pregnancy to save her own life does a poor job of “valuing them both.”


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