Editorial Roundup: Kansas

Topeka Capital-Journal. July 15, 2022.

Editorial: Every Kansas voter is responsible to ensure the claims they’re hearing are fair and accurate

A lot of claims are being tossed around regarding the constitutional amendment question on the ballot for the upcoming primary election, dubbed the Value Them Both Amendment.

Plenty of the claims are misleading. Be careful when discerning claims from fact.

If you’ve read something that seems suspect, check it out. The onus is on you to make an informed decision.

We’d also like to take this moment to again remind all registered voters they can vote on this issue in the primary election regardless of party affiliation. From where we stand, this issue belonged on the general election ballot, not the primary, but unfortunately that ship has sailed.

The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Jason Tidd recently fact-checked several claims. In the fact check, Tidd reports the amendment won’t ban abortions as some claims suggest, but rather change the constitution that currently protects the rights of Kansans’ access to abortions. That would allow lawmakers to pass laws further restricting or banning abortion, if they so choose.

Additionally, claims that Kansas has become a “destination” for painful, late-term abortions is misleading. Tidd reports that it is true that Kansas has become a “destination” for abortions. Out-of-state patients account for about half of all procedures in Kansas, state public health statistics show. However, it isn’t true that “painful” or “late-term” abortions are happening in Kansas, or at least not as state law defines the terms.

Claims that abortions are unregulated in Kansas are also untrue. In fact, the Legislature has many statutes on the books regulating abortion and medical facilities that provide abortions.

It’s on each of us to act with sound reason and a clear mind.

We can’t make you vote a certain way. Nevertheless we strongly encourage you to participate. We also strongly encourage you to make informed decisions. That means doing the homework, asking questions and maybe even challenging what you think you know.

That can be difficult, but it’s the most American thing you can do. People died for our right to self-determination. Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.

Vote. Vote your conscience. Vote in your best interest.

And if you choose not to vote, don’t complain about the results.

___

Kansas City Star. July 18, 2022.

Editorial: The Star urges a no vote on Kansas abortion amendment. Politicians must not revoke rights

Kansas voters face one of the most important questions in state history on Aug. 2.

They’ll decide if the Kansas Constitution will make women second-class citizens, with fewer rights than men.

They’ll decide if a woman’s most intimate and personal health decisions should be handed to politicians.

They’ll decide if Kansas policy will be dictated by theocrats and authoritarians, without regard to an individual’s personal beliefs, faith or morality.

The voters’ answer to these questions must be no.

We urge a no vote on the Kansas constitutional amendment.

RIGHT TO PERSONAL AUTONOMY, HUMAN DIGNITY

In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s Bill of Rights establishes a fundamental right to abortion, independent of the U.S. Constitution.

“At issue here is the inalienable natural right of personal autonomy, which is the heart of human dignity,” the justices said. “It encompasses our ability to control our own bodies, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination.”

The proposed so-called “Value Them Both” amendment overturns that idea. “The constitution of the state of Kansas does not … create or secure a right to abortion,” the amendment says. “The people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion.”

Supporters of the amendment say that language doesn’t ban the procedure. That’s true, but deeply misleading: The amendment clearly enables major abortion restrictions. It’s the critical permission slip lawmakers must have to enact the abortion laws they desire.

And no one should doubt — no one — that the Legislature will attempt to ban almost all abortions in Kansas, for anyone, if the amendment passes, subject only to whatever federal laws might still allow the procedure for some patients. There is no other reason for putting this question on the ballot.

Anti-abortion groups in Kansas, and their friends in the Legislature, did not fight Roe v. Wade for nearly 50 years only to settle now for merely keeping abortion clinics clean. Look at Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri, and you can see the future in Kansas if the amendment prevails.

No pro-life legislator we’re aware of has stepped forward to say new abortion restrictions will be off the table forever in Kansas if the amendment passes. That silence should speak volumes to voters.

No. All evidence suggests the Kansas anti-abortion community won’t be content simply to renew “commonsense” regulations, which were passed with Roe’s protections in place. Now that Roe is gone, legislative restraint will go as well.

Rejecting the amendment does not remove the Legislature’s authority to pass abortion laws, by the way. In its 2019 opinion, the Kansas Supreme Court said abortion restrictions are still allowed, if Kansas “has a compelling interest and has narrowly tailored its actions to that interest.”

That’s the proper standard, and it remains intact even if voters reject the amendment. If an abortion statute can meet it, then it remains on the books.

Some pro-lifers want a much lower, so-called “rational basis” for abortion laws and rules. That’s wrong. Abortion rights should not be decided by a handful of legislators chatting over a water fountain, deciding what they think is rational.

LEGISLATORS CAN’T TAKE AWAY THE INALIENABLE

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade makes much of the idea that abortion policy shouldn’t be decided by the courts. “It is time to … return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives,” the majority opinion says.

Why? Why should state legislators get to decide if a pregnant woman must carry a fetus to term, regardless of her circumstances?

Political disputes are usually considered and settled by the electoral process. But that isn’t always true: The nation’s founding documents (and the Kansas Supreme Court) say some rights are inalienable, which means they can’t be taken away by lawmakers or a vote of the people.

Could the Legislature prohibit Kansas families from having children, or require abortions? Of course not: The right to have children and raise a family is clear and inalienable, even though the right is not explicitly guaranteed in the state’s Bill of Rights, or the U.S. Constitution.

In the same way, a woman has a fundamental, inalienable right to choose an abortion. It is not something for the “people’s elected representatives” to decide, no matter what Samuel Alito thinks. It’s for the woman to decide.

Anything less reduces her to second-class status, unprotected by the law, and not free.

State legislators often make horrible choices. Over the decades, state lawmakers in this country have enabled slavery, endorsed segregated schools and public facilities, protected child labor and a host of similar initiatives. They’ve rejected marriage equality, criminalized private behavior between consenting adults and outlawed contraception.

In some states, women and their doctors face prison if they seek abortion services.

In almost every case, the courts have had to remind politicians that fundamental rights can’t be canceled on a whim. If the Kansas amendment prevails, the courts will be largely powerless to stop the Legislature’s routine interference with a woman’s health care rights.

And not just any legislature, but the one we now have: the charlatans, the science deniers and just plain kooks who serve there. Must women be required to put their health in the hands of such people? The answer, like the vote, must be no.

ABORTION IS NOT MANDATORY

The Roe decision, recently discarded by the U.S. Supreme Court, was an effort to recognize the state’s interest in protecting a fetus, particularly late in a pregnancy. We supported the Roe framework, which largely remains intact in Kansas, at least for now.

The rights of the state to protect a fetus, however, cannot always supersede the rights of all women to make their own choices with their own bodies.

Severe abortion restrictions in Kansas would mean sickness, and perhaps death, for some women. Already, doctors in other states report confusion concerning strict anti-abortion statutes, or if they apply to so-called Plan B medication or intrauterine devices, or ectopic emergencies. Some physicians are refusing to treat patients without legal advice first.

That chaos is headed directly to Kansas if the amendment passes.

Abortion is not mandatory — those who oppose the procedure can still convince mothers not to undergo it. They can provide support for women facing unwanted pregnancy. They can accelerate efforts to help women (and men) raise children in a safe, nurturing environment.

We support those efforts. We want as few abortions as possible. But we do not support the heavy hand of the state interfering with a woman’s most difficult, intimate, personal health decisions.

We know this vote involves faith obligations for some voters. Kansans have an absolute right to worship as they see fit, or not to worship at all. They have the right to vote as their religion dictates, or vote their conscience if it differs from the leaders of their church, synagogue or mosque.

But no faith has a right to impose its views on those who do not share its beliefs. To think otherwise is un-American, and unworthy of a free people.

Will Kansans act to protect liberty and autonomy, or will they succumb to misleading claims of moderation from amendment supporters? Do Kansas voters understand the dangers of providing unlimited power to state legislators? What other freedoms might be next?

Kansans once bled in the name of equality. The state was among the first to recognize a woman’s political rights. Now, Kansans must act again, as the nation watches.

The Legislature moved this election to the August primary, hoping you won’t vote. They put confusing language on the ballot, further obfuscating its true intent. Amendment supporters have run a campaign of misdirection.

All of this is regrettable. But the vote is still yours. Your voice is the only one that matters.

No means no. Vote no on Aug 2.

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