Kansas Republicans seek to limit access to abortion despite statewide voting

Kansas voters shocked the nation last year when they did just that overwhelmingly rejected A proposed constitutional amendment to the state would have said there is no fundamental right to abortion. But that didn’t stop Kansas Republicans from opening the 2023 legislative session by trying to restrict access to abortion anyway.

After meeting the Republican-controlled state legislature last week, GOP leaders set the agenda These included additional restrictions on abortion and more funding for pregnancy crisis centers that discourage people from having abortions. They also set out a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidtwhich established the right to abortion in the state constitution, as a major goal.

They provided no details of what the additional abortion restrictions would be; The Kansas Republican Party and leadership in both legislatures did not respond to requests for comment. But advocates of abortion anticipation Everything from banning abortions after 14 weeks of pregnancy to more restrictions on abortion providers and telemedicine abortion services.

Kansas already has some of the harshest restrictions nationwide aside from an outright ban. Abortion currently remains legal until 22 weeks of gestation, and thereafter, only in cases where the pregnant woman’s health is at risk. There is also a group of Other restrictions regarding the procedure, including parental consent requirements for minors and limitations on insurance coverage. However, it has become a regional haven For those who live in neighboring states with more restrictive policies.

Although some national Republicans described last year’s referendum results in Kansas as “wake-up callAt the time, the Kansas GOP did not seem to have seen it that way. Instead, state Republicans are punching their heels, despite the fact that Kansas voted 59 to 41 percent to save their abortion rights.

“[A]said Emily Wells, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood at Great Plains Votes. “It appears that this is the last, because in the first week of the session they have already doubled down on their plans to attack reproductive freedom.”

The Kansas Republican Party is still taking aim at the state’s constitutional right to abortion

the hawk The issue is at the center of Kansas GOP strategy in 2023.

hawk The Kansas Constitution protects the right to abortion in broader terms Roe v. Wade Once a federation. A state government can only violate this right when it can show a “compelling interest and has designed its actions narrowly in accordance with that interest,” according to Rule. Accordingly, the court overturned the state’s ban on dilatation and evacuation procedures, which are the most common method of performing an abortion after the first trimester of pregnancy.

Republican Senate Speaker Ty Masterson argue at last week’s news conference that Democrats want “even unregulated abortions, and in some cases you see across the country, after childbirth,” and that “with hawk In place, we have the capacity for that. All our rational limitations are under attack.

But in a red state like Kansas, so were the Democrats Reluctant to bet such a controversial position On abortion and some even They voted for abortion restrictions In the past. Now, they seem more concerned about keeping abortion safe and legal and ensuring that Republicans don’t enact further restrictions on the procedure in that term.

According to the Latest data available As of 2021, no Kansans have had an abortion after 22 weeks’ gestation since hawk It was decided, and there was, the impossibility of such a procedure aside, no postpartum abortions anywhere in the country.

Despite all this, Masterson and other Republicans are demanding a legal basis for hawk to are tested.

To that end, Kansas Republican Attorney General Chris Kobach, who describes himself as “100% pro-life,” announced Wednesday that he intends to take the state supreme court Reconsideration of its judgment hawk On the basis of the US Supreme Court ruling overturning last year Roe v. Wade and finding that the US Constitution does not grant the right to abortion.

“One of the things that affects any court reviewing any precedents is the interfering events,” Kopacz said Tell Associated Press. “There were overlapping events.”

if hawk Republicans wouldn’t face the same legal restrictions in enacting abortion restrictions — and it could limit access not just for Kansans, but for out-of-state patients seeking care from across the region.

Republican lawmakers have already introduced a bill that would lower the ban on impeachment of Kansas Supreme Court justices. Although it is not clear on what grounds Republicans might seek to remove the judges, it is seen as a way to change the makeup of the court to be more favorable to anti-abortion advocates. They also have Shown They intend to reintroduce a constitutional amendment that would require Kansas Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed by the Kansas Senate, which has been controlled by Republicans for a while. over a century. (A similar measure failed last year.)

Currently, judges are nominated on the basis of merit by a nine-member nominating committee and are then appointed by the governor. After their first year in office, they must win a retaining vote to serve another six years before facing another retention vote. All seven justices on the court survived last year’s retention vote.

Why Kansas Republicans are after abortion

Kansas Republicans’ strategy on abortion may seem ignorant in the face of the fiasco of the abortion amendment and re-election of Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, who has already vetoed a number of Republican bills aimed at restricting abortion and has indicated she will. Continue doing this term. However, the Republican Party has an overwhelming majority in this term, which means that the party has the votes to override Kelly’s veto.

The election that protected access to abortion also saw the Republicans retain an overwhelming majority. Indeed, the Republican Party caucus has become more conservative. Republican lawmakers were elected and they make no secret of their anti-abortion positions, so they see themselves as having a mandate to advance their agenda, said Bob Beatty, a political analyst and professor at Washburn University in Topeka.

“It will take more than two votes at the state level to convince them to moderate abortion. If they are not penalized at the polls, they have no incentive to change.

State Republicans have long relied on the abortion issue to prove their conservative goodwill, and old habits die hard.

In this area of ​​the country, a lot of politicians have cut their teeth on anti-abortion legislation. “It’s almost like a rite of passage,” said Zack Gingrich Gaylord, a spokesperson for Trust Women, which operates an abortion clinic in Wichita.

This could be especially true for Republican lawmakers looking to run for governor in four years, Beatty said. Although no one has officially announced his candidacy yet, Kelly is term-limited, and Masterson has been floated as the Republican contender.

At the moment, the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision on hawk He’s still in place, and that limits how far Kansas Republicans can go, even as they can overturn the governor’s veto. This means that their anti-abortion rhetoric may not translate into actual policy.

“It’s a further waste of time and resources on a matter that has already been decided in multiple places, not only in the courts, but also through ballot procedures,” Gaylord said.

Barring any changes brought about by the court, the Kansas Republicans’ strategy appears to be to try to do what they can to restrict abortion, and hope that their legislation will legally hold. In the process, they seem eager to take advantage of any opportunity to appeal to Republican voters in future primaries.

If there is any decrease in abortion access in Kansas, it will reverberate throughout the region. Gingrich Gaylord said 70 percent of Trust Women’s patients at her clinic in Kansas are from Texas, which enacted a near-total ban on abortion last year. A few weeks ago, the clinic received more than 16,000 phone calls inquiring about their services in one day.

“We’re kind of experiencing this perpetual suffocation,” he said. “So we go into this session with a little bit of trepidation – but also flexibility and dedication to making sure the legislature remembers to vote in August.”

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