Kansans gear up to vote on abortion rights

WSU students are divided on abortion rights as the state’s primary grows closer.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade, the right to an abortion is now up to individual states. In Kansas, a proposed amendment to the state constitution would eliminate the right to an abortion, and citizens will vote for or against that amendment on Aug. 2.

Wichita State students are divided on the topic. 

“We are so thankful that Roe is overturned,” Hayley Keiser, former WSU student and Shockers for Life member, said. “We’re still at the point where it goes state-to-state, and now . . . we need to work harder to be there for the women and the mothers and start helping them. . . . If they think they don’t have any options, we can tell them they do have options.”

While some viewed this overturn positively, others did not. 

“I definitely think that Roe v. Wade was the floor for reproductive access and that being taken away has a lot more implications related to privacy and personal life choices whether or not they’re reproductive,” Delaney Jones, Intersectional Feminists On (and Off) Campus Uniting Students president, said.

In a concurring opinion with the Friday vote, Justice Clarence Thomas said the Court should reconsider other legal precedents that establish rights such as the right to contraception (Griswold v. Connecticut), same-sex sexual relations (Lawrence v. Texas), and same-sex marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges).

Many state legislatures had already begun reviewing abortion rights at the state level — with more conservative politicians anticipating the overturning of Roe, some states have immediate or soon-to-be laws to make abortion almost entirely illegal.

Louisana, Missouri and other states had trigger laws in place that made abortion illegal (except in the case to save a person’s life) immediately following the Supreme Court decision. States such as Oklahoma and Texas are poised to do the same. 

What does that mean for Kansas?

As it stands right now, the right to an abortion is protected under the Kansas constitution; however, there are many restrictions. Before the procedure, patients must receive state-directed counseling that has information to discourage abortion. In addition, health or private insurance providers may only cover abortion in specific cases. Other restrictions can be found here.

Infographic by Thy Vo/ The Sunflower

On Aug. 2, Kansans will vote on whether or not the state constitution should continue to protect Kansans’ right to get an abortion. The amendment’s official name is “Kansas No State Constitutional Right to Abortion and Legislative Power to Regulate Abortion Amendment.”

Voting “yes” means the state constitution should be amended to not guarantee the right to have an abortion or to require government funding for abortion. If the constitutional amendment does pass, abortion rights will be decided by the state legislature, currently led by Republicans. They will likely try to pass more restrictions on women’s health care.

“I think just making sure we really understand the original Constitution and follow it,” Erin Jacobson, Shockers for Life president, said. “I believe we are starting to create the side paths to get around the Constitution nowadays. People come to America for freedom, and we want to make sure we keep that freedom for all the citizens.”

A “no” vote opposes amending the state’s constitution, maintaining the legal precedent established by Hodes & Nauser, and maintaining the state’s constitutional guarantee of abortion. Right now in Kansas, abortion is only allowed up to 22 weeks of pregnancy, and in rare circumstances, abortion is legal after 22 weeks if the pregnant person’s life is in jeopardy. 

Adriana Owens, at-large SGA senator, said she encourages everyone to vote “no” on Aug. 2.

“Our state and local governments are the only protection we have to keep the right to safe abortion for anyone with a uterus. The constitutional amendment on the Kansas ballot will mandate government control over private medical decisions and pave the way for a total ban on abortion with no exception for rape, incest or the health of the pregnant person.”

Citizens have to be registered by July 12 to vote in the primaries on Aug. 2. Information to register can be found at https://www.kdor.ks.gov/Apps/VoterReg/

Regardless of the political party (or lack thereof), everyone registered before July 12 can vote in the Aug. 2 primary. Registering to vote after July 12 will secure eligibility to vote in future primaries/elections; however, voting in the Aug. 2 primary will be out of reach. 

Those interested in early voting can find more information at https://www.vote411.org/kansas. Early voting will start on July 13 and will go until Aug. 1

Want to find where you can vote in person? Go to https://www.vote.org/polling-place-locator/.