Anti-abortion organization Kansans for Life entered the legislative session in Topeka this year with one key agenda point: more state funding for “pregnancy crisis centers,” fake clinics designed to take advantage of people making difficult medical decisions about pregnancy by offering them little to no actual medically valid advice. Well, that isn’t enough for Republican state Rep. Randy Garber, who is pushing another constitutional amendment to ban abortion in the state of Kansas. In a letter written to the House caucus, Garber opined: “This is a simple amendment that says there is no natural right to an abortion in the constitution.”
This is, of course, after an outright spanking in the public vote last August by a nearly 60-40 margin upholding a state Supreme Court ruling saying there is a fundamental right to reproductive care, and a Republican attempt to oust the state Supreme Court justices that failed. Even though the people have spoken, Garber felt the need to push the abortion amendment. “I think if we had made it a little more simpler, maybe we would have had a better chance of getting that passed,” he told the Sunflower State Journal.
RELATED STORY: Kansas Republicans say their anti-abortion amendment failed because it didn't go far enough
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While few elected officials want to revisit this debacle, they might find it hard to say no to those who continue to push like Garber. Kansans for Life are prioritizing funding crisis centers, while state House Speaker Dan Hawkins said the GOP’s priority is keeping the current limits on abortion in place. “Our focus remains on protecting the common-sense restrictions that are already in state law such as limits on late-term abortion, preventing taxpayer funding of abortion, and requiring parental consent for minors seeking an abortion,” Hawkins said in a statement.
But Garber's case may end up centering around putting this back on the ballot alongside the 2024 presidential election. Republicans have made abortion the centerpiece of quite a bit of legislation to begin this session, starting with GOP state Sen. Chase Blasi’s position that city governments should be able to ban abortions, movements on pregnancy crisis centers, and now this proposed constitutional amendment.
RELATED STORY: Voters told them no, but Kansas Republicans are advancing wild new anti-abortion legislation anyway
Garber believes that the original bill needed to be simpler and more to the point. This goes along with Republican Sen. Molly Baumgardner’s point after the amendment was defeated in August because it did not go far enough: If it were a clear outright ban, it would have passed.
When Republicans are out of ideas in Kansas, this is the well they return to over and over and over again. After more than a decade of dealing with the Kansas state house, I can tell you if Republicans spent as much time thinking about roads, jobs, and the economy as they do thinking about your medical rights and what goes on in your pants, we would all be driving on yellow brick roads and our pockets would be stuffed full of cash. That doesn’t appear likely to happen anytime soon, though, and as Garber shows, this certainly won’t be the last of the anti-abortion radical legislation to be put forward in the next two years.
This week on The Downballot, don't miss a special double-guest episode. Hear from Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, as she discusses the group's efforts to roll back the corrupting effects of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and their plans for campaign finance reform. Then, law professor Quinn Yeargain joins to discuss the surprising setback Gov. Kathy Hochul faced in the state capitol and what it means for the future of New York's top court.