By Sarah Neely

Part One: The First Failure, A Grim Future

In this three-part series, Operation Rescue, based in Kansas for decades, draws from its keen knowledge of the state’s pro-life history to examine how the “Value Them Both” Kansas pro-life amendment failed in 2022, analyze how that failure has radically changed the abortion landscape in a conservative state, and discern what this grim future for the Sunflower State means for the pro-life movement right now. As more dangerous state ballot initiatives succeed, and even more see abortion through all nine months cemented into state constitutions, the stakes have never been higher!

The Demise of “Value Them Both”

Just two short months after the overturn of Roe v. Wade in 2022, all eyes suddenly turned to Kansas – the first state to hold a post-Roe referendum on abortion through a pro-life constitutional amendment. The “Value Them Both” amendment, added to the August 2022 ballot, sought to nullify a previous 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that dubiously ruled the right to abortion was established in the Kansas Constitution, ratified in 1859.  

Though the case related to that decision had been heard years before, the pro-abortion Kansas Supreme Court waited to hand down its decision until there was a like-minded governor in place, along with a weaker Republican majority in the legislature. This unprecedented move by the court ensured its decision to enshrine abortion in the state constitution could not be successfully challenged by the state legislature. 

Operation Rescue, headquartered in Kansas, immediately saw how dangerous it would be if the amendment failed and the earlier Kansas Supreme Court decision was allowed to stand. Aside from failing to ratify crucial protections for preborn persons in the state constitution, Operation Rescue warned that failing to undo the supreme court’s decision would undoubtedly create legal standing to undo many, if not all, pro-life legal protections already passed in the state – creating an abortion haven in Kansas. 

“Kansas voters – even many who identified as pro-life – did not seem to believe this urgent plea,” Operation Rescue President Troy Newman commented. “Largely because the pro-life messaging fell so short of the mark, allowing the abortion lobby’s false narrative to take root and convince voters that the amendment was just a play by ‘anti-abortion extremists’ attempting to use ‘government interference’ to control women’s bodies.”

Efforts to deter this false narrative came too late in the summer of 2022, with funding poorly spent and a definite lack in unity among pro-life organizations. The result was a total defeat, with only 40% of Kansans voting in favor of the life-saving amendment.

The abortion lobby celebrated such an exacting victory with vigor, knowing that defeating the amendment and preserving the Kansas Supreme Court’s faulty decision would allow it to quickly chip away at current laws already in place. This was the abortion lobby’s opportunity to harness true government interference that could secure Kansas as a lucrative abortion haven with no gestational limits. 

Dismantle One, Dismantle All

As predicted, not even a year after the amendment failed, and abortion remained enshrined in the Kansas constitution, the abortion lobby launched its first lawsuit against the state to strike down life-affirming protections. 

In April 2023, the Kansas legislature passed “The Reversal Amendment,” which required any facility performing chemical abortions to also provide information to patients about abortion pill reversal.

Two months later, Planned Parenthood and a group of abortionists hastily filed suit not only to challenge the new regulation, but to challenge several other long-standing protections as well, including a 24-hour waiting period. The protections are all part of the “Women’s Right to Know Act,” initially passed in 1997. 

One of the first mentions in the lawsuit’s preliminary statement is the right to abortion, now enshrined in the Kansas state constitution. The abortion lobby asked the court to declare both the Women’s Right to Know Act (in its entirety) and The Reversal Amendment “unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.” 

By October 2023, a Kansas judge issued an injunction to block several of the protections while litigation was ongoing. That means protections like the 24-hour waiting period that gave women time to think, or The Reversal Amendment that offered a life-saving option should a woman change her mind, are currently not in effect. 

“With this lawsuit, we already see the agenda many Kansas voters were unwilling to acknowledge,” Newman says. “That of quickly making our state into a haven of unregulated abortion through all nine months. Dismantling the 24-hour waiting period is just a first step aimed at making Kansas the midwestern hub for out-of-state abortions. 

“Ultimately, this is the abortion lobby’s test case. If Planned Parenthood and the like can convince the courts to dismantle one longstanding pro-life law, it knows it can dismantle them all. This was always the plan, and the same dark agenda is present in every state where a pro-abortion constitutional amendment is being pushed forward.”

In April 2024, the Kansas legislature also passed an abortion reporting law that requires abortion providers to survey patients for the “most important factor” in their decision to seek abortion. This information could help identify key challenges pregnant women face and, in turn, identify key areas of assistance that are needed. Within a month, Planned Parenthood and the same group of plaintiffs challenged the law, requesting the challenge be added to the ongoing lawsuit from 2023.

If the abortion lobby wins these challenges, every pro-life protection already established could easily be stripped away. Moreover, the Kansas legislature will be powerless to pass any meaningful legislation regarding abortion in the future. That very likely includes gestational limits, patient safety standards, informed consent, or medical reporting. 

Newman adds, “Kansas will become the wild, wild west of abortion. We are already seeing that dangerous expansion taking shape.”

UP NEXT — Part Two: From Ballot Initiative to Abortion Haven. With abortion now enshrined in the Kansas state constitution, Operation Rescue delves into the horrific expansion of abortion taking place in the Sunflower State.