Eyes of the nation now on Kansas
by Joe Bollig
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The day pro-life people have hoped for but weren’t sure would ever come has arrived.
The United States Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which established a constitutional right to abortion, has been overturned. The pro-life victory comes after decades of hard work, much suffering and the deaths of more than 63 million unborn babies.
The high court cut down Roe v. Wade when a solid majority ruled in favor of Mississippi’s 2018 Gestational Age Act, which was challenged in the case of Thomas E. Dobbs, State Health Officer of the Mississippi Department of Health v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — or Dobbs v. Jackson, for short.
The announcement was made June 24.
But the rejoicing is muted in some states — Kansas among them.
“I think many people prayed and worked for this day when the court would correct the grave errors that it made in 1973,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.
“I’m overjoyed that the American people can determine what the public policy on abortion will be . . . I’m glad we’re back to where we were pre-1973. But the battle is not over. This is a significant victory, but now each state will have to determine what will be the public policy on abortion.”
The abortion industry had been preparing for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, said Jeanne Gawdun, director of government relations for Kansans for Life. Although some states have pro-life laws in place or in the works, Kansas has been stripped of protection.
“The strategy of the abortion industry has been to sue laws in state courts regarding limits on abortion,” she said. “Their strategy has been . . . to claim that the state constitutions have a right to abortion, and that’s what they did in Kansas.”
On April 26, 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in the case of Hodes and Nauser v. Schmidt that a right to abortion exists in the 1859 Kansas Constitution.
In one swoop the state’s High Court changed Kansas from a pro-life state into a wide-open pro-abortion state by wiping out decades of pro-life laws regulating the abortion industry, creating a situation where abortion is practically unregulated and unlimited in Kansas, said Gawdun.
“Our state supreme court agreed with the abortion industry’s claim that there is a ‘fundamental right to abortion’ [in the state’s constitution],” said Gawdun.
“But our court went beyond that in saying any law regarding abortion — any law — is ‘presumed unconstitutional.’ That’s our reality in Kansas. Laws like parental involvement, no taxpayer funding for abortion, abortion clinic health and safety standards, women’s right to know information when considering abortion — all of those laws are considered unconstitutional.”
The bottom line is this: The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs means little unless something can be done about the Kansas Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling.
Fortunately, Kansans can do something by voting “Yes” on Aug. 2 for the Value Them Both Amendment to the Kansas Constitution, said Gawdun. The amendment does not outlaw abortions in Kansas but returns the right to regulate the abortion industry to the people through the state legislature — restoring the pre-April 2019 status quo.
Catholics must take seriously the Aug. 2 vote for the Value Them Both Amendment because it will have an outsized impact not only on Kansas but beyond, said Archbishop Naumann. The abortion industry knows this.
“Kansas will be the first state with a statewide vote on the abortion issue after the Dobbs decision,” said the archbishop. “The eyes of the nation are on Kansas. Our first objective is to pass the Value Them Both Amendment.”
“The reality is that whatever the United States Supreme Court decides regarding the Dobbs case . . . is that here in Kansas it’s more important than ever that Value Them Both gets passed on Aug. 2,” agreed Gawdun.
“Here in Kansas, our state supreme court radically changed our Kansas Constitution to create a nearly unlimited right to abortion. And by declaring that any legislation that limit abortion are now presumed unconstitutional, we as Kansas citizens have no ability to place reasonable limits on the abortion industry. We must pass Value Them Both to protect the life-saving laws that have been in place, some for decades.”
Regardless of how the vote goes, however, the church will not only continue its ministries to help women facing crisis pregnancies, but also ramp them up to an even greater degree, said Archbishop Naumann.
“We stand against the killing of the innocent unborn, but we also stand with women in difficult pregnancies, and we want to surround them with a community of love and support — not just so the baby will be born, but so the baby and the mother will thrive,” he said.
“Our pregnancy resource centers work hard with women experiencing difficult pregnancies, to help them during their pregnancy and continue to walk with them for years to give them support so the baby and mother will do well.”