Women don hats resembling cat ears at the Women's March in South Park in 2018.

Women don pink hats resembling cat ears at the Women's March in South Park in 2018. Opinion columnist Brett Knepper argues that if a failed abortion bill returns to the capitol, it will move Kansas back to a "pre-modern society."

Opinion

A great tragedy to women's rights occurred when Kansas state lawmakers attempted to amend the state constitution by adding a “Regulation of Abortion” clause.

"Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, in circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or when necessary to save the life of the mother," the amendment read.

Citizens would have had the opportunity to vote on the amendment in August, rather than November when a larger audience would be drawn; therefore, should it have passed, this would have confirmed for Kansas that “abortion isn’t constitutionally protected ⁠— and that legislators can regulate abortions, including when a pregnancy results from rape or incest or threatens a woman’s life,” according to KCUR.

Luckily, this didn’t even make the ballot and was struck down on Feb. 7.

This proposed amendment reflects a backward attitude among some Kansans at a time when the state has begun moving in a more progressive direction. Just last April, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled favorably for the protection of women’s right to an abortion.

According to the New York Times, the state supreme court “blocked a law that would have banned the most commonly used procedure for second-trimester abortions, arguing that the state constitution protected the right of women to ‘decide whether to continue a pregnancy.’”

Many Republican state legislators backed the shot-down legislation that would, in effect, limit the reproductive rights of women even after the state supreme court’s recent ruling, which supported freedom of choice on abortion matters. Some politicians want to infringe upon not only a precedent set by the highest level of state and federal law but the overall rights of women.

The state already limits access by not allowing abortion funding under Medicaid.  This bill would be another injustice. Not only does it oppress a constitutional right set in place by Roe v. Wade in 1973, but it also opens the door to future laws that could cross into the rights of victims of rape, incest and endangerment to the life of the mother.

And yet, even after the vote last Friday, according to ABC News, “top Republicans vowed they would keep pushing for the proposed anti-abortion amendment's passage.” These politicians continue to make excuses for their behaviors, claiming they are “not trying to ban abortion but trying to return to the status quo on abortion before the Kansas Supreme Court's decision [last April].”

Legislators who support this bill are wrong. And their attempt at taking away a constitutional right of women — set forth by both the U.S. and state Supreme Courts — is wrong. We live in a post-modern society, yet laws such as these return us to a pre-modern world. After years of struggle and women fighting for an equal place in society, it is a shame that there are some in Kansas working to hinder that right. 

The issue of abortion is deeply personal, as it is between a mother and her body. She must live with her decision for the rest of her life, whether it be choosing to keep the fetus or abort it. However, it doesn’t seem right that state lawmakers can attempt to instill his or her personal beliefs onto another person.

Daily, we have the choice of whether or not to follow a deity of our choosing and that’s where right or wrong on the issue should remain — in the possession of the person and not the governing body. Should this failed amendment return, societal regression will return to the state of Kansas.

Brett Knepper is a sophomore from Newton studying English. 

—Edited by Emma Bascom