Rachel Sweet: Choices will affect access
In his four years in office, President Donald Trump has been able to appoint three justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. Moreover, he has made over 200 appointments to lower federal courts, essentially reshaping the federal judiciary in his image.
With this week’s confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett, many are worried about the future of abortion access in our nation and our state, not to mention the Affordable Care Act, voting rights and marriage equality. With 17 court cases on abortion making their way toward the U.S. Supreme Court, the future of Roe is in jeopardy.
We can’t depend on our federal courts to protect us.
This spring, champions of reproductive rights across the state of Kansas worked tirelessly to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have eliminated a fundamental right recognized by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2019: the right to personal autonomy, which includes the right to have an abortion.
In the Hodes & Nauser decision, the court recognized a monumental protection for Kansans, for reproductive rights and for health care providers.
Anti-abortion politicians who supported the amendment said that it wasn’t about banning abortion in Kansas since federal protections would still apply. This argument was flawed from the outset, as we’ve seen the protections afforded by Roe eroded further and further through medically unnecessary state restrictions over the past decade.
In many states, abortion is a right in name only, with access becoming virtually nonexistent. And with a conservative majority in the U.S. Supreme Court, Roe may be overturned, leaving each state Legislature in charge of abortion access within its borders.
Kansan has two paths before it: to remain a place where abortion is legal and accessible or become a place where it isn’t. The politicians and organizations behind the defeated constitutional amendment are on the record about their belief that all abortions should be banned, no matter what. This is completely out of step with the values of the majority of Kansans. This is not the kind of state that we want to be.
Nearly one in four women will have an abortion in her lifetime, and every woman’s decision about her pregnancy — whether to have an abortion, choose adoption or parent — should be respected and valued. We can accept that abortion is a reality and a legal right that must be protected. Or, we can push it back into the shadows, wreaking havoc in the lives of the women we care about.
We can no longer depend on federal courts to protect our rights. The future of abortion access in Kansas requires us to elect leaders who are dedicated to protecting reproductive rights, from the top to the bottom of the ballot.
Keeping the right to abortion intact in the Kansas Constitution will continue to protect access to this safe, legal, and essential form of health care. Make no mistake: Access to abortion in Kansas is on your ballot this year, even if it isn’t spelled out.
Rachel Sweet is the regional director of public policy and organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes.