KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Residents in the Sunflower State will be the first to vote on an abortion-related ballot measure since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Kansans will weigh in on the “Value Them Both” amendment, a state constitutional amendment regarding abortion access, on Aug. 2.

The ballot measure seeks to overturn a 2019 state Supreme Court decision that said abortion rights were protected under the state constitution. Under the ruling, lawmakers can’t pass laws restricting abortion access without “strict scrutiny” from the court.

If the amendment passes, it would give the state legislature greater control over access to the medical procedure.

Yes or no?

“Vote yes” and “Vote no” signs are lining neighborhood streets in Kansas, as people get ready to vote on the constitutional amendment on abortion Aug. 2.

For some, there’s confusion over what the “yes” and “no” means.

Political analyst Bob Beatty said a “yes” vote is not an automatic ban on abortion, but it would add language to the state constitution to say there’s no constitutional right to abortion. From there, it would leave the future of abortion rights in state lawmakers’ hands. 

“The entire issue would go to the legislature,” Beatty said. “It would be out of the hands of the state Supreme Court, and whatever the legislature wanted to do, they could do.”

Beatty said if the amendment passes, then lawmakers could decide to do nothing. However, he said it’s likely that they could pass legislation restricting abortion in the state.

A “no” vote will mean that the state constitution will stay the same and continue to recognize the right to an abortion. 

Full text

Here’s the language you’ll see on your ballot. The last paragraph is what would be added to the Kansas Constitution:

“Explanatory statement. The Value Them Both Amendment would affirm there is no Kansas constitutional right to abortion or to require the government funding of abortion, and would reserve to the people of Kansas, through their elected state legislators, the right to pass laws to regulate 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.

“A vote for the Value Them Both Amendment would affirm there is no Kansas constitutional right to abortion
or to require the government funding of abortion, and would reserve to the people of Kansas, through their elected state legislators, the right to pass laws to regulate abortion.

“A vote against the Value Them Both Amendment would make no changes to the constitution of the state of
Kansas, and could restrict the people, through their elected state legislators, from regulating abortion by leaving in place the recently recognized right to abortion.

“Shall the following be adopted?

“Regulation of abortion. Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. 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.”

Current abortion restrictions

Even with protections under the state constitution, there are restrictions on abortion in Kansas.

Abortion is strictly limited after 22 weeks. The procedure only happens in rare circumstances when the pregnant person’s life or bodily function is at stake.

Patients have to receive state-written materials that include information about abortion risks and other options. Then there is a 24-hour waiting period after receiving the materials. Additionally, patients must undergo an ultrasound.

Those under 18 have to receive permission to get an abortion. If the minor can’t get permission from a parent/guardian, they have to petition a judge.

Finally, no taxpayer money goes toward funding abortions in Kansas. Publicly funded health insurance only covers the procedure if it is necessary to save the life or bodily function of the pregnant person.

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