TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Republican leaders released their legislative agenda for 2023 on Tuesday.
The eight-point plan, entitled “A Better Way,” outlines plans to address the economy, education, and health care. It also emphasizes a commitment to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” which includes a push to protect abortion restrictions.
Under one section of the plan, Republican leaders pledge to “reduce abortions through support for crisis pregnancy centers and preserving protections currently in law supported by the vast majority of Kansans.”
“We would certainly like to promote adoption, pregnancy crisis centers, and talk about life after birth as well, but we do have issues with the Hodes decision … and by the way, a lot of prognostications happened around the Value Them Both,” said Senate President Ty Masterson, R-Andover.
“What we’re looking at is protecting those, what they even called in those debates, common sense restrictions.”
This comes after nearly 60% of Kansas voters upheld abortion rights last year, rejecting a constitutional amendment on the August primary ballot.
The Republican-backed amendment, called “Value Them Both,” sparked a heated debate over abortion rights during the Midterm election.
Kansas was the first state to hold a referendum on abortion after the fall of Roe v. Wade.
The vote to reject the constitutional amendment also allows prior state Supreme Court rulings to remain intact, which includes Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt. The Hodes case found the state’s law prohibiting dismemberment abortions violates the Kansas Constitution.
“The most radical view of abortion right now is actually the democratic party view of unregulated abortion up to and in some cases, you see around the country, after birth,” Masterson said.
“That is the most radical view of abortion there is, and with Hodes in place we have the potential of … all our common sense restrictions are under attack, and so that’s what we’re going to be looking at, evaluating what that looks like.”
Masterson said there are a “host” of things that lawmakers can do.
“I think probably the biggest question to be answered is it goes to autonomy, and when does the young lady in utero receive her autonomy, and what are the rights of that person and when does that begin,” he said.
Some state leaders are expecting the debate over abortion rights to continue in this year’s legislative session.
Senate Minority Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa, released a statement on Tuesday, shortly after Republicans released their legislative agenda.
“Kansas Republicans never fail to receive clear evidence of their constituents’ positions on issues and proceed to take the opposite tract. Our state soundly rejected the leadership-sponsored constitutional amendment that would have stripped Kansans of their freedom and ability to determine their futures. Then we re-elected a governor with a strong vision for the state that promotes innovation, unity, and prosperity for all Kansans. The Republican legislative agenda does the opposite.
“And despite holding a supermajority and being positioned to pass whatever they want, today’s announcement lacked any specificity that would lead to their proposed Better Way. I look forward to hearing Governor Kelly’s address to the Legislature tomorrow for tangible, pragmatic policies that will move Kansas forward.”Kansas Senate Democratic Leader Dinah Sykes, D-Lenexa
Read the full “Better Way” plan below: