For now, the Kansas Constitution protects the right to an abortion because of a state Supreme Court decision.
But that could change in August, when voters decide on a constitutional amendment that would overturn that decision.
The vote is getting more attention this week because a draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision was leaked, saying Roe v. Wade will be overturned, leaving decisions about abortion rights up to individual states. A final Supreme Court decision is expected this summer.
Here’s what you need to know about the August Kansas vote:
Why does the Kansas Constitution now protect the right to an abortion?
In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution includes a right to bodily autonomy. That includes abortion, the justices said.
The case started when lawmakers attempted to ban dilation and evacuation abortions in 2015. A lawsuit to strike down the law led to the 2019 ruling.
As a result, the Kansas Legislature is barred from passing laws that would place an “undue burden” on access to abortion. Any abortion restrictions must clear an extremely high level of court scrutiny to become law.
How far along can you get an abortion in Kansas?
Abortions after 22 weeks gestation are currently banned in Kansas, and none have been reported after the 2019 Supreme Court decision.
What does the Value Them Both constitutional amendment say?
Last year, the Kansas Legislature voted to send a constitutional amendment to Kansas voters that would overturn the 2019 court decision that declared the state right to abortion.
Supporters call the amendment Value Them Both, referring to the pregnant mother and fetus. The amendment would add the following language to the state constitution:
“Regulation of abortion. 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, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”
What happens to abortion rights if Kansans vote ‘yes’?
A “yes” vote would add language codifying that nothing in the constitution guarantees the right to an abortion.
It would not immediately ban abortion or change existing laws and regulations. It would mean Kansas lawmakers are, once again, empowered to pass any abortion restrictions allowable by federal law.
If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and the Kansas amendment passes, state lawmakers could pass legislation intended to ban abortion in Kansas. They would not be required to include exemptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother.
What happens if Kansans vote ‘no’ on the amendment?
If Kansans vote “no,” the state constitution would not change, and the state level right to an abortion would remain. The Legislature would continue to be barred from passing legislation that would restrict abortion access.
Lawmakers could try again to pass the constitutional amendment if it fails. The 2019 decision establishing abortion as a right could also be overruled by justices in the future.
When is the vote?
Kansans will vote on the amendment on Aug. 2, 2022, when the primary election is held.
Who can vote?
Any registered voter in Kansas can vote on the constitutional amendment Aug. 2 and any other statewide ballot issues. You do not need to be registered with a specific party to vote on those issues. But to vote for candidates running in partisan primaries, voters must be registered as a Republican or Democrat.
What is the voter registration deadline?
Voters must register by July 12. Get information on the Kansas secretary of state’s website.
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