Jan 23, 2020 12:00 AM

Proposal to reverse Kansas abortion rights ruling advances

Posted Jan 23, 2020 12:00 AM
Image courtesy House Federal and State Affairs Committee
Image courtesy House Federal and State Affairs Committee

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican lawmakers on Wednesday pushed two separate but identical versions of the same proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution past their first hurdles in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

The House Federal and State Affairs Committee endorsed a measure that would overturn a Kansas Supreme Court decision last year declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state constitution. The amendment would declare that the Kansas Constitution does not “secure” a right to abortion and allow legislators to regulate it as far as federal court decisions allow. The vote was 15-6.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved its own version of the same proposal less than two hours later on a voice vote without debating the measure.

Top Republicans said the votes set up a debate in one chamber or both as early as next week. GOP leaders have made putting an amendment on the August primary ballot a priority.

Both chambers must approve the measure with two-thirds majority for it to go on the ballot. A simple majority of voters would have to approve it at the polls.

Supporters of the proposed amendment argue that it would allow voters to preserve the Legislature's long-standing power to regulate abortion and protect a raft of restrictions approved over the past decade. Critics see it as a step toward an eventual attempt to ban abortion.