Kansas’s Chance to ‘Take Back Our Laws and Our State’
Every state has certain distinctives. One of Kansas’s happens to be owning the geographical center of the contiguous United States. For the lower 48, a little chapel near the Nebraska border is smack dab in the middle of the country. And starting next week, the state can brag about being in the center of something else: the nationwide abortion debate.
A lot has happened in the four weeks since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. In some states, pro-life laws went into effect immediately. In others, the legislature raced to debate new limits. But in Kansas, locals can brag about being the first state in the nation to have an abortion issue on the ballot. When voters head to the polls August 2, they’ll have an opportunity to make history in the post-Roe era — cementing the state’s pro-life laws in the Kansas constitution.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was in Kansas over the weekend for the ramp-up of the Value Them Both campaign. After canvassing the state to preach at Wichita’s Central Christian Church and Lenexa Baptist Church, he sat down with two key figures in the fight: Brittany Jones, who’s helping to lead the effort at Kansas Family Voice, and Melissa Ohden, founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, who’s served as a spokesman for the debate.
Jones, recognizing the significance of the moment, told Perkins on “Washington Watch” Monday that Kansans “are excited to be the first state in the nation to take on the abortion question after Roe…” She explained that Value Them Both would return the issue of abortion to the people, giving them the final say on life. That opportunity was stolen from voters in 2019 when the state supreme court decided to rip the debate out of their hands. The judges, Jones said, “took away the people’s ability to place even the most basic regulations on the abortion industry. And so, Value Them Both restores [that right].”
Perkins, cutting through the Left’s disinformation campaign, clarified that the amendment “doesn’t eliminate abortion in the state. It simply allows the elected officials to represent the people of the state — instead of the court making the decision.” But the facts, Ohden argued, continue to be suppressed — as Democrats and the media tell outright lies about what the measure would do. One of the most important truths, she explained, is that it would stop abortion businesses from hurting women.
“What a lot of people don’t know,” Ohden said, “is that as recently as 2010, there was a clinic in Kansas City — so just 20 minutes from here — that was operating much like Kermit Gosnell’s clinic in Philadelphia. And they were using carpeted rooms to perform abortions. [The doctor] was sterilizing his instruments and a dishwasher, which for the record, is not sterile. Women were getting sick, women were dying. And so that’s why we passed our clinic licensing laws into 2011. [But] our Kansas Supreme Court has already struck down those laws. They’re already unenforceable. And so we just want to be able to protect those laws in Kansas. We’re not asking for a lot, but we’re asking for the ability for the duly passed laws to be enforced.”
As many of 25 pro-life laws and common-sense limits are on the shelf, thanks to activist judges. Without the Value Them Both amendment, voters “would have nothing in this state that would protect the unborn or their mothers,” Ohden warned.
The debate is such an important one to both sides that the Washington Post sent a team of reporters to cover the ground game for the campaign. They followed young volunteers from Students for Life Action and Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, even talking to Jones, who reiterated that “the stakes could not be higher.”
To Perkins, she emphasized that this is the chance for Kansans to “take back their laws and take back their states.” “I think you felt the energy [Sunday] night at Lenexa Baptist [from] people who are so excited to protect moms and babies, that’s who Kansans are. We aren’t a radically pro-abortion state.”
FRC’s president agreed, pointing out that this “is an educational moment for the nation.” The Left insisted (wrongly) that when Roe and Casey were struck down, abortion would be outlawed in the nation. “It is not, and we’ve been saying that from the beginning. It simply goes back to the states. And that’s what is happening here… the voters of Kansas will have the opportunity to go to the ballot and decide: who do we want to make the policy as it pertains to the sanctity of human life? Do we want the Supreme Court of Kansas to do it—or do we want our elected representatives to do it?” That’s what August 2 is all about.
Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.