State Watch

Kansas state House narrowly rejects anti-abortion measure

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The Kansas state House narrowly shot down a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the state’s constitution Friday that would have sought to restrict access to the procedure.

While the amendment won the approval of the majority of the chamber by an 80-43 vote, supporters needed to hit a two-thirds majority, or 84 votes in the 125-member chamber, for the amendment to be on the ballot in the August primary election.

The measure failed after four Republicans bucked their party and several Democrats representing conservative districts opposed the amendment.

Supporters of the amendment left the roll call open for more than five hours to try to convince skeptics to flip their votes, but to no avail. 

The amendment would have overturned a Kansas Supreme Court decision from last year that declared access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state’s Bill of Rights. 

Republicans vowed to keep up the pressure after failing to pass the amendment, assuring the public they would maintain their push for its ultimate passage.

“It will come up — I can guarantee you that,” House Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R) told The Associated Press

Senate President Susan Wagle (R) promised to hold up a bipartisan plan to expand Medicaid in Kansas to upwards of 150,000 people, a plan that is a top priority of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

“If Governor Kelly’s Medicaid Expansion passes without the Value Them Both Amendment, Kansas will become the 17th state to implement taxpayer funded abortions,” Wagle said in a statement. “The Senate will not take up Medicaid Expansion without the passage of the Value Them Both Amendment.”

Critics of the amendment voiced concerns that scrapping state protections for abortion could lead to a total ban on the procedure should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade and also eliminate federal protections.

“The Legislature would have absolute and total authority to pass any laws they see fit regarding abortion, so of course that could include a total ban,” Rachel Sweet, a lobbyist for abortion provider Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told the AP.

Various GOP-led states have implemented laws restricting abortion access in recent months, with supporters of the effort saying they hope to force a court battle leading to Roe v. Wade being overturned at the Supreme Court.

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