The top legislative priority of the Kansas Catholic bishops took a big step forward Friday, Jan. 22, with passage of the Value Them Both state constitutional amendment for life. The measure now moves to the Senate, where the outcome is contingent upon a possible change of heart from a key senator.
Value Them Both (VTB) would overturn a Kansas Supreme Court decision in 2019 that declared abortion to be a fundamental right. The ruling effectively rendered more than 20 pro-life laws to be virtually unenforceable. Those laws include bans on taxpayer-funded abortion, requirements for parental consent from minors seeking an abortion and basic abortion clinic health standards.
Currently under the law in Kansas, as declared by the court ruling, abortion is virtually unlimited and unregulated, mirroring laws in pro-abortion states like New York and California.
Amending the Kansas Constitution is a two-step process. Both chambers of the Legislature must pass the measure by “supermajority” margins of two thirds of the membership. Once this happens, the measure is placed on a statewide ballot for a vote of all Kansans. The measure at that point needs a simple majority.
Passage of VTB in the House is considered a big step forward since that chamber fell four votes short last year. The House chamber became more pro-life after last November’s elections, clearing the way for the successful vote of 86-38. The measure needed 84 votes.
Debate and a vote on Value Them Both had been scheduled for this past Thursday until Senator Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha) failed to appear at the Capitol and registered an officially unexcused absence, a rarity at the Statehouse. His non-appearance forced postponement of the debate and vote. Senator Pyle supported the measure last year, but now says he wants changes in the measure before pledging his support.
Senator Pyle’s demands amount to a “poison pill” which would likely doom the measure in a statewide vote.
“Value Them Both is carefully crafted to meet both a legal standard as well as a common sense standard that will allow a majority of Kansans to support it,” said Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference.
“The last second changes being proposed are simply unacceptable and frankly, play right into the talking points of the abortion industry that is doing everything and anything they can to delay or cancel a debate and vote in the Kansas Senate.”
Senator Pyle’s contact information as listed on the Kansas Legislative website is:
2979 Kingfisher Road
Hiawatha, KS 66434
Weber is hopeful that grassroots voices will convince Senator Pyle to “see the light” and pledge his support for Value Them Both as passed by the Kansas House.
While citizen voices are important, an even more powerful tool is prayer.
“Every day of the legislative session, a group of legislators, people from my staff and even outside lobbyists, are gathering to pray a rosary,” said Weber. “We have dedicated our spiritual efforts for Value Them Both to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn. We are persistently asking for her intercession.”
The Kansas Rosary Crusade has been endorsed by all the bishops of Kansas. Details can be found at: www.KansasRosaryCrusade.org.