State lawmakers in Kansas will vote this week on an amendment to the state’s constitution that would codify their right to restrict abortion despite a state Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.
The state House will this week consider the amendment, which was already approved by two-thirds of the Senate. The amendment states lawmakers can restrict abortion procedures “to the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States.”
Republicans introduced the amendment after the Kansas supreme court ruled in 2019 that the state constitution protected the right to an abortion. Pro-life lawmakers worried the decision would undo abortion restrictions already in place in the state.
“They issued a constitutional decision,” Representative Susan Humphries, a Republican who helped form the amendment, told the Wall Street Journal. “So we have to react with a constitutional response.”
The amendment requires a two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate, as well as a majority of the state popular vote. Lawmakers intend to put the amendment on the ballot in Kansas’s upcoming August elections, when voter turnout is lower than in the November general elections. Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to stop the amendment’s passage.
The amendment would “throw the state back into the Dark Ages,” said Democratic Governor Laura Kelly.
The efforts of Kansas Republicans come amid a major push by pro-life lawmakers to limit abortion in various states. Tennessee, Alabama and West Virginia have already passed constitutional amendments designed to allow abortion restrictions, and amendments have been introduced in Iowa, Kentucky, and Alaska.
Other efforts include various so-called “fetal heartbeat bills” that prevent an abortion if a doctor can hear the fetus’s heartbeat, a variant of which was recently introduced in Tennessee. Several of these bills are currently blocked by court injunctions.