Kansas Republicans Are Trying to Pass an Abortion Ban After Kansas Voters Voted Against One

16 months after Kansas voters overwhelmingly chose to protect abortion rights, state lawmakers are wasting everyone's time with a proposed abortion ban.

Kansas Republicans Are Trying to Pass an Abortion Ban After Kansas Voters Voted Against One

In 2022, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected an anti-abortion ballot measure that attempted to strike the right to abortion from the state Constitution—a right that had been established by a state Supreme Court decision in 2019. Now, Kansas Republicans are openly defying voters: Last week, eight House Republicans introduced a bill that would ban all abortion, including medication abortion, and also allow people to sue abortion providers for at least $10,000, similar to Texas’ SB 8 abortion ban.

State Rep. Brett Fairchild (R), one of the co-authors of the bill, insisted on the importance of “equal protection under the law for all unborn children” to the Kansas Reflector. He went on to baselessly claim that “science proves that life begins at conception” and that “the government has a responsibility to protect that life from conception until natural death.”

It’s clear Republicans are just grandstanding and wasting everyone’s time, especially since the state’s Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, would veto the bill. And while Kansas Republicans hold a super-majority in the legislature and could override this veto, it wouldn’t hold up to a legal challenge due to the aforementioned state Supreme Court decision from 2019.

“Kansans spoke—loudly—on the issue,” Amber Sellers, advocacy director of the Trust Women organization of abortion clinics, told the Kansas Reflector. Sellers is referencing the 20-point margin by which the anti-abortion ballot measure was rejected in 2022. “No more abortion bans… No more time and resources wasted on go-nowhere bills when there are real and serious problems that our government must address for the health and safety of all of our Kansas communities.”

To Sellers’ point, this new, proposed abortion ban is unlikely to achieve anything but waste more time and resources that could be addressing real problems in the state. Republicans proposed a similar abortion ban in 2023 that didn’t go anywhere and they seemingly remain committed to defying voters and posturing in 2024. The bill comes as reproductive health providers in the state face growing challenges even as abortion remains legal: Kansas is one of few states where abortion is legal in the Midwest, and providers thereare increasingly inundated by out-of-state patients seeking care from neighboring states where abortion is banned. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported a total of 12,318 abortions in the state throughout 2022, the year Roe v. Wade was overturned—a 7,849 increase from 2021.

That anti-abortion lawmakers in Kansas still refuse to respect the outcome of the 2022 ballot measure election ultimately isn’t surprising. From the moment the election was called, anti-abortion leaders baselessly alleged election fraud and demanded a recount that would supposedly bridge the 20-point margin. One man dipped into his retirement and offered up his home to help fund the predictably fruitless recount effort. The anti-abortion campaign in favor of the ballot measure relied heavily on misinformation from day one, insisting to voters that voting yes on the measure was “pro-women” and pro-health care and that voting yes wouldn’t lead to an abortion ban—despite anti-abortion activists privately pledging to pursue one if the measure passed. And, here we are today: The measure didn’t pass, and anti-abortion lawmakers are still trying to ban abortion.

Notably, even Kansans for Life hasn’t publicly supported the proposed ban, listing a legislative agenda that includes a range of radical abortion restrictions, but not the ban in question. This agenda instead includes support for legislation that would require child support payments to start at conception, legally recognizing embryos as children, and legislation to prevent women from having “coerced” abortions.

Kansas voters were the first in the nation post-Roe to prove how popular abortion rights are—including in ostensibly red states—when directly put on the ballot, inspiring a wave of other successful abortion rights ballot measure efforts in the year-and-a-half since. We all heard them loud and clear—except for Kansas Republicans, it seems.

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