Church and state: Kansas Republicans ignore voters, pass new anti-abortion laws

Kansas Reflector: Week-long series examining the influence of religious beliefs on political decisions at Statehouse

Kevan Myers, left, of Kansas City, Kansas, and Clifton Boje, of Bonner Springs, protest in front of the House chamber before the state of the judiciary address in January. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that Kansas\’ constitutional right to bodily autonomy extends to the decision to terminate a pregnancy. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Reflector Kansas

TOPEKA Torn between his Catholic faith and commitment to public service, Congressman Henry Helgerson struggled to keep his composure as he spoke to House colleagues towards the end of this year\’s legislative session.

The Eastborough Democrat referred to a rash of anti-abortion laws produced by Republicans despite voters who rejected a constitutional amendment on abortion in August.

The lawmaker was debating House Bill 2060, which addresses the shortage of gynecologists in the state by offering tuition assistance to medical students. The program is not available to anyone trained to perform abortions.

Holding back tears, Helgerson spoke about her role three decades ago in helping pass legislation banning abortions in state-funded facilities. But she couldn\’t understand why the state would prohibit health care workers from being trained to provide a legal service.

This crosses a completely different line, he said. I believe that if the voters are going to allow abortions in this state, I want the doctors to have the best training. Banning them from having it is not in anyone\’s health interest.

I walk a very tight line because I am torn on this issue. I\’m torn because, raised a Catholic, I go to church on a regular basis, but I still have everything you all have, those feelings. But the state and our obligation is different from my religious obligation. And today, in the last few days, we\’ve crossed the line where my religious beliefs, or other people\’s religious beliefs, suddenly take over what is state policy.

Kansas Reflector is examining the influence of religious beliefs on state government through a series of stories.

Ashley All, spokeswoman for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, delivers a speech Aug. 2, 2022, at a watch party in Overland Park after the primary results verified that Kansans voted to preserve abortion rights. (Lily O\’Shea Becker/Kansas Reflector)

Despite a 59-to-41 margin in a state ballot on the constitutional amendment last year, Republican lawmakers passed new anti-abortion laws. Providers of abortions will have to tell patients that the abortion pill can be reversed, a dangerous proposition based on junk research. Doctors will continue to provide medical care to babies born alive, thanks to legislation designed to promote a false narrative that botched abortions are performed on babies who are able to survive. And abortion providers would not have been able to get liability insurance through the state\’s Health Care Stabilization Fund, even though they are required to contribute to it, but the Senate fell short of the votes needed to override the veto. by Governor Laura Kelly.

In addition, the legislature has allocated tax dollars to support pregnancy crisis centers, which actively discourage women from seeking an abortion.

We are moral people, said Rep. Ron Bryce, a Republican doctor in Coffeyville who said he has personally provided help to 27 abortion survivors. We care for the weak, the disadvantaged, the innocent and the powerless.

Abortion has dominated Kansas politics for decades, but attention to the issue was heightened last year as the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Kansas voters\’ rejection of the proposed constitutional amendment.

In March, advocates for access to reproductive healthcare gathered en masse to celebrate bodily autonomy and protest anti-abortion legislation. Other times during the session, Kevan Myers, of Kansas City, Kansas, and Clifton Boje, of Bonner Springs, staked the third floor railing with large anti-abortion signs. They are the leaders of an abortion abolitionist ministry based in St. George.

A sign read: We are ambassadors of Jesus Christ who implore God for a message of reconciliation.

Another: Laws against homicide should apply equally to all people.

Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen, a Democrat from Topeka and senior minister of the First Congregational Church, said in an interview for this series that he spoke with a Republican leader, whom I\’ll leave unnamed, who told me, \”We really don\’t care about all this stuff\”. , Tobit. We just carry all these abortion bills because we have to let the people who support us know that they were carrying water for them despite last summer\’s referendum.

Attack on abortion rights in Kansas preserves the status quo.

Since the Summer of Mercy in 1991, powerful faith-based pressures have influenced elections and established barriers to reproductive health care. Under Kansas law, a woman seeking an abortion will receive state-mandated propaganda designed to change her mind. You will then need to look at an ultrasound image, wait 24 hours and pay for the procedure out of pocket.

State law prohibits abortions after 22 weeks, except to save a mother\’s life.

In 2009, Scott Roeder, a member of a Christian patriot militant group, killed physician George Tiller at his Wichita church. Tillers\’ clinic had been bombed in 1986 and he survived a shooting in 1993.

The Kansas Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 2019 that ruled that the state\’s constitutional right to bodily autonomy extends to decisions to terminate a pregnancy. The ruling, which was a response to state law that banned a procedure used in 95 percent of second-trimester abortions, ensured abortion rights would be preserved in Kansas after the U.S. Supreme Court removed federal protections from it. last June.

The Catholic Church, Kansans for Life, the Family Policy Alliance and others have funneled millions of dollars into a campaign to overturn the Kansas Supreme Court decision through a constitutional amendment. Secret audio obtained by Kansas Reflector revealed that state lawmakers planned to ban abortion without exception if the amendment passed.

But six weeks after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Kansas voters rocked the political establishment by unexpectedly rejecting the amendment.

Senator Mike Thompson, R-Shawnee, appears at a Jan. 10, 2023 press conference where Republicans outlined their priorities, including plans to fund anti-abortion pregnancy centers, for this year\’s legislative session. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

In an email to supporters the day after the election, Sen. Mike Thompson, a Shawnee Republican, said it was his fervent hope that the more than half a million Kansans who voted against the amendment were simply being misled by campaign ads. and by accomplice media. The alternatives, he said, were unnerving and unthinkable.

Thompson wondered if the Kansans were really okay with babies being torn apart, limb by limb, or if Kansas\’ prospects were to become an even bigger destination for abortion tourism. She listed other possible explanations for the popular vote involving false narratives about abortion clinics.

I know some are absolutely delighted with the end result and are probably celebrating today, Thompson wrote in his email. I hope and pray that one day they realize the devastation they left behind.

God have mercy on Kansas. We will have to reproach him, in some way, that we deserve his grace.

Correction: This story was updated to note that the Senate failed to override the governor\’s veto on a law banning access to liability insurance.

Church and State

On HaysPost:

  1. Thursday: conservative shrine
  2. Friday: LGBTQ goals
  3. Saturday: private instruction
  4. Sunday: right to abortion
  5. Monday: systemic racism
  6. Tuesday: Spiritual Statehouse

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