TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – It was standing room only Tuesday as more than 100 people gathered at the Kansas statehouse to discuss a possible constitutional amendment. The amendment would give the Kansas legislature the power to regulate abortion in the state.
Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that it was a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion. Some lawmakers and Kansans are now pushing to change that by giving Kansas citizens the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment.
“All this constitutional amendment does is reset the constitution to before this case and allow the people, through the legislature, to make those difficult decisions,” explained legal scholar and former law professor Elizabeth Kirk.
Supporters of the amendment say the legislature should have oversight on abortion. This will potentially regulate the cleanliness of clinics performing abortions and address other issues like teens getting abortions without parental consent. Currently, patients under 18 must have consent from both parents to have an abortion in Kansas. There are certain stipulations that allow only one parent to give permission.
“Physicians are already performing an extremely high standard of care, and we don’t need the politicians’ interference to make sure that that standard of care is happening, because we do it already,” said Rachel Sweet, policy director for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes.
Opponents of the amendment say a woman’s choice to have an abortion should remain a discussion between her and her doctor. They worry the amendment could potentially lead to a ban on abortion.
The Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Federal and State Affairs Committee held a joint meeting to hear testimony from both sides of the issue. Thirteen people testified in person with 36 written testimonies in favor of the amendment. Thirty-one people testified in person with 81 written testimonies against the amendment.
There was some concern at the meeting. Some people in favor of the amendment who testified were not able to stay for questions. The committee chairs allowed those people to leave. Additionally, proponents of the amendment were given five minutes to testify before the committee; however, opponents were only given four minutes to testify. The chairperson said this was due to time restraints.
The committees did not make any decisions Tuesday but will be meeting again Wednesday. This will give lawmakers time to read the 117 written testimonies.