Republican Kansas statehouse candidates on the issues: Support for the ‘Value them Both Amendment’

Protestors outside the Kansas state capitol earlier this year. Photo credit Daniel Caudill/Kansas News Service

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of this summer’s primary elections. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for Republican candidates running for seats in the Kansas House and Senate.

We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item one:

The “Value them Both Amendment” brought before the legislature this year would have established that women do not have a constitutional right to abortion in Kansas and reserved the right to regulate abortion access exclusively for the legislature. Do you support the “Value Them Both Amendment”? Why or why not?

Kansas Senate District 10

Tom Cox

In April of 2019 the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that there is a constitutional right to abortion based on Section 1 of the Kansas Bill of Rights provides all Kansans, “inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Their ruling means complete bodily autonomy and they ruled an unborn baby is a part of the women’s body until birthed. This ruling undid virtually every regulation on abortion in the State of Kansas. It stripped away parental notification of minors, stripped away a ban on dismemberment abortions, etc.

In response, the legislature introduced a constitutional amendment to be put on the ballot to clarify there is not a constitutional right to abortion and that the legislature can regulate the practice, just as they can any other medical procedure.

I voted yes on the constitutional question. I do want to clarify that this amendment does not include a single restriction on abortion. Yes, it would allow the legislature to provide regulation of abortion practices within reason as stated by multiple US Supreme Court rulings, so a ban on abortion, even if this constitutional amendment passed would still be unconstitutional.

But my decision to vote yes is not about pro-life versus pro-choice views. It is about how the Kansas Constitution can be altered. There is no historical information that when the Kansas Constitution was created or any time since in when altering the constitution that a right to abortion has been discussed. The Supreme Court ruling is clearly exercising the judges’ personal views of what they believe should be included, which is not what the court is there to do.

I think the voters should have a right to vote on whether they want that right enshrined in our constitution. I do not believe 84 House Members should be able to alter the constitution without a vote of the Kansas people. In the same way, I don’t believe seven people on the Supreme Court should be able to alter it this substantially either. The people created the constitution and it requires a public vote to change the constitution. The KS Supreme Court just very much changed it.

This is a difficult issue and I did not and do not take it lightly. My vote is to allow you, the voter, the Kansan, to make this decision, not the Supreme Court, not the legislature.

Mike Thompson (incumbent)

Yes, I strongly support the Value Them Both Amendment and voted for it. It simply would return Kansas to the legal state we were in prior to the 2019 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court. Without the Value Them Both Amendment, every law we have passed in Kansas related to the protection of women and the unborn – including banning taxpayer funding of abortion and parental notification laws – will likely be invalidated due to the legal standards applied by the court.

 

Kansas Senate District 11

John Skubal (incumbent)

I did not support the “Value Them Both Amendment” that was presented to the legislature in the last session. It was strictly a vote on timing. We were asked to approve a vote on this amendment at the August primary. Because only approximately 35% of our citizens vote in the primary, I prefer that it be presented in November when we have approximately 65% of the population voting.

 

Kellie Warren

I am pro-life, and I respect the fact that Kansans have a myriad of different opinions on the issue of abortion. When the Kansas Supreme Court issued its ruling on abortion and the Kansas Constitution in April of 2019, those opinions were invalidated. Therefore, when the “Value Them Both” Amendment came before me in the legislature for a vote in 2020 as a State Representative, I voted YES. Here’s why.

The Amendment gives you (the Kansas voter) an opportunity to directly say whether you think your legislator should be able to enact more common sense regulations and protections for women, like the following, which are supported by most Kansans and became law long ago:

  • A ban on taxpayer funding of abortion;
  • Woman’s Right to Know – requires that women considering abortion have access to KS Department of Health and Environment-issued medical information about prenatal development, abortion procedures, risks and alternatives; and
  • Parental consent requirement for girls under 18 who want an abortion.

Without the Amendment, these protections will likely be erased.

I am a Republican and running to be a State Senator. My opponent in this Republican primary was the only Republican Senator who voted NO on the Amendment. All the other 27 Republican Senators – who hold a range of opinions on abortion – all voted Yes. You deserve to have your legislator be a YES vote on it, so that YOUR voice on the issue can be heard. If elected as your State Senator, I will let your voice be heard, because I support the Value Them Both Amendment.

Kansas House District 18

Cathy Gordon

I witness the miracle of life, and love of a man and woman on a daily basis as a nurse-midwife. Conception, pregnancy and birth is a gift from God, and blessing to all. I believe in the bible, and the words that reveal, human life begins at conception. Kansas is a state where being a neighbor still exists, and neighbors care for their neighbors. Caring for the sick, the widows, single parents, all of this still happens. I support the “Value them Both Amendment” to the Kansas Constitution. I believe in Life. I believe life begins at conception and does not end until natural death.

Calvin Vandegrift

I absolutely support the “value them both” amendment whole heartedly, and without question. In the case of Hodes and Nauser v Schmidt, the Kansas Supreme Court struck down sections 65-6741, 65-6742, 65-6743, 65-6744, 65-6745, 65-6746, 65-6747, 65-6748, and section 65-6749 of the Kansas Statutes Annotated. The provisions of these sections were part of all part of an act, known as the “Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act”. The act banned a particularly gruesome and inhumane abortion procedure, known in the medical community as, “Dilation and Evacuation”. However, the decision which was handed down by the Supreme Court of Kansas was much deeper, and much more damaging to Kansas Pro-Life laws than simply striking down these sections alone. Under the ruling issued by the Kansas Supreme Court, a ruling I might add, that is even more stringent than that which was handed down by SCOTUS in the landmark cases of Roe v Wade, and Planned Parenthood v Casey, many other vital abortion laws in our state, could now be overturned. These are basic laws designed to protect not only the unborn, but their mothers as well, such as ultrasound requirements and waiting periods, giving women a chance to think before they make a potentially life changing decision.

If elected I would vote in favor of the “value them both” amendment, and would go even further to introduce legislation to completely ban abortions in the state of Kansas. I would like to see abortion become an off grid person felony in our state if possible. I also do not agree with the notion that many Pro-Lifers have, that punishing the doctor should be the only priority. Both a woman and her doctor should be punished for either soliciting or committing an abortion. I find it disgusting that the legality of killing an unborn child is something that is even up for debate in our society. It shows the depravity of mankind that we are willing to tolerate such a gruesome and barbaric procedure as abortion.

Kansas House District 20

Jane Dirks

Yes, I support the value them both amendment because I believe it is the duty of the legislature to regulate the abortion industry, not the job of the Kansas Supreme Court. Due to the recent Kansas Supreme Court decision, for example, a minor could argue that she has the right to an abortion without parental consent, and she would win. I believe most Kansans think parental consent to an abortion for a minor is reasonable.

Jan Kessinger (incumbent)

I was one of only four republicans who voted against the resolution when it came to the House for a vote. To be clear, the vote was to put the amendment to take the judicial branch out of ruling on abortion was to be in the primary election. The vote had no impact on abortion rights, one way or another. It was about when/if to have a public vote on an amendment that would be voted on by the voters of Kansas.

I opposed the resolution for many reasons. The first was that it was a set-up to have the vote in the primary election when only about 20 percent of voters cast their votes. The purpose of a primary is for the republican and democratic parties to select candidates. Unaffiliated voters (about one-fourth of my constituents) do not vote at all in primaries. It is not the time to vote on a constitutional amendment.

A resolution to have the election on the resolution for amendment as part of the fall general election was presented in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee as a way to bring the amendment to a vote by the general public. At the behest of the Value Them Both Amendment promoters, the resolution was never even considered. There were sufficient votes in line for the general election resolution to pass, but special interests who were looking to restrict voting on it held sway and kept it from being passed. So, the bottom line on that is that promoters of the amendment refused to allow the resolution to be voted on if it was not to be held in the primary where very few actually vote.

In my explanation of vote, I also raised the point that banning abortion would not stop abortion. We would go back to the back alley abortions and other options. I suggested that if we really want to stop abortions, we should follow Colorado’s lead where they offered free/low cost birth control and abortions dropped by 40 percent. In Kansas, that would be about 2,800 abortions that would not occur. But…again that is unacceptable to the promoters of the amendment. They let “perfect” be the enemy of “good”.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item two:

Kansas is among the 14 states yet to adopt a Medicaid expansion bill under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Do you support Medicaid expansion in Kansas? Why or why not?