Next month, Kansas will become the first state in the nation to vote on abortion following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, creating division among residents in the state as Republicans work to combat what they consider to be misinformation about an amendment that would return abortion policy in the state to Kansans through elected representatives.
On Aug. 2, voters will cast ballots on the Value Them Both constitutional amendment, which will decide whether elected representatives will have the ability to regulate abortion in Kansas after the state’s Supreme Court previously found the 1859 Kansas Constitution grants a “natural right” to abortion.
Kansas state Rep. Susan Humphries, a Republican who has represented the state’s 99th district since 2017, told Fox News Digital that she is “unabashedly pro-life” and insisted it is “crucial” that Value Them Both is passed next month.
“I helped carry the first time we ran Value Them Both, so I was very much involved with it at that point and I have been all along,” Humphries said. “I think it is crucial that we get it passed here in Kansas on August 2nd, partly because we’re the first that’s going to have a statewide vote after the decision from the Supreme Court, but also just for the sake of Kansans. The nation’s looking at us, but we’re doing it because we want to protect women and children here in Kansas.”
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Discussing the division among residents in the state on whether the amendment should pass, Humphries said a majority of her constituents “favor” the amendment amid “blatant” backlash and misinformation from the media.
Humphries, who is dedicated to pushing back against the false claims levied toward the amendment’s meaning, added she has spoken with a number of her constituents who wanted “clarification” on what the amendment actually does before they vote.
“There’s so many deceptive tactics going on that people are confused,” she said. “I think some of the talking points nationwide are now really getting sent to Kansas. … We know that the Biden White House, Elizabeth Warren, and the radical left want to make Kansans pay for third-trimester abortions, they want Kansans to be deceived by what this is actually going to do. They have an agenda.”
“What we’re voting on, the Value Them Both amendment in Kansas, doesn’t ban abortion,” Humphries added. “It just takes us back to where we were in 2019, where there were common sense regulations around abortion that had to with minors, health and safety standards in clinics.”
In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court struck down a ban on surgical abortions in a 6-1 decision, ruling that the state’s constitution protected women’s choice to engage in that activity as a “right.”
The Court ruled that the state constitution incorporated language from the Declaration of Independence that recognized that certain rights predated the country. The Declaration’s “natural, inalienable rights,” the Court said, included “personal autonomy” and, therefore, abortion.
“This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life — decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy,” the majority opinion read.
Danielle Underwood, director of communications for Kansans for Life, said the passage of the amendment is imperative because “unelected judges” are determining whether Kansas will have an “unlimited abortion industry.”
“Unlike our neighboring states, taxpayer funded and late-term abortions could soon be 100% allowed in Kansas unless we vote yes on the Value Them Both amendment on August 2,” she said. “We have been working diligently to get to the voters of Kansas to help them understand what they’re truly voting on. They’re voting on whether or not the people of Kansas have a say in the discussion regarding the regulation of abortion.”
“We have been working so hard to combat the misinformation that’s spreading like wildfire across Kansas and really across the nation,” she said. “We want people to be very clear on what they’re voting on and to not be confused by this campaign of misinformation and really weaponized against the amendment.”
For Kansas residents, Underwood, who also serves as a spokesperson for a Value Them Both coalition in the state, said the amendment is “one means to be able to regain control of our state and take it back from unelected judges.”
“The people of Kansas will not let the radical left silence us through their lies about Value Them Both,” she added. “They have an extreme agenda that they’re trying to push on Kansas against our will. … We have coastal elites weighing in on our election here in the heartland.”
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The Value Them Both coalition held a roundtable discussion Tuesday in Overland Park to discuss the importance of the amendment and featured remarks from Humphries and Underwood, as well as Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union, and Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor. Also in attendance for the roundtable event was Dr. Kelly Byrd, a Kansas pediatrician.
Ohden, founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, has used her personal story to advocate for the Value Them Both campaign in Kansas, urging residents in the state to vote yes on the amendment as “all eyes are on Kansas.”
“For someone like me, Roe v. Wade was intended to be my death sentence,” Ohden told Fox News Digital in an interview. Ohden said she was unaware she had survived an unsuccessful abortion until she was 14 and said her birth mother, Ruth, was “forced” to have an abortion.
“Surviving an abortion, being an adoptee, being a person of faith, have certainly shaped my beliefs on abortion,” Ohden said, offering further details of the “traumatic” experience she faced when finding out she was an abortion survivor. “No abortion survivor should ever feel ashamed or embarrassed for what was done to us. … Behind that word choice, it’s always a person. I’m more than somebody else’s choice.”
“We know that the abortion industry has every intention of making Kansas a destination for abortion,” she said. “We’ve seen a 17% increase in live dismemberment abortions in Kansas since 2019, and I know through my experiences, both personally and professionally as a social worker, how unregulated abortion harms women and children. That’s why Value Them Both is so important to me.”
Ohden said the action that will be taken next month in Kansas regarding the amendment will be a “sign of what’s to come” in the midterm elections and insisted there is a “misconception” among many within the state, and nationally, that the amendment is a ban on abortions. “It is not a ban,” she said. “It simply means a vote yes ensures Kansas doesn’t remain a destination state for these extreme abortions.”
Democrats in the state are voicing strong opposition to the amendment and urging Kansans to vote “no” on the measure.
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In a statement shared with Fox News Digital, Kansas Democratic Party Chairwoman Vicki Hiatt said the amendment is a matter of privacy for those who live in the state.
“Kansans’ freedom and privacy are under attack by extreme politicians,” Hiatt said. “The Kansas Democratic Party encourages all Kansas voters – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – who agree that this invasive government overreach is wrong to join us voting NO on August 2nd.”
“The most effective way to fight back and protect Kansas from regressive legislation is to volunteer with Common Sense Kansas, and elect and re-elect Democrats up and down the ballot this November to ensure any attempt to undermine Kansans’ freedom and privacy does not become law in our state,” she added.
Cassie Woolworth, president of the Johnson County Democratic Women South chapter, told Fox News Digital she is enthusiastic to defeat the amendment, but expressed concern over whether residents in other areas of the state have the same momentum.
“The energy I’m seeing in Johnson County is amazing,” Woolworth said. “Johnson County has been trending blue. I’m excited because we are going to end up defeating the amendment in Johnson County. My fear is the rest of Kansas because the rest of Kansas is just now getting more purple … and the rest of Kansas being very big bible belt and the rest of Kansas being very slow to adopt, not a bad thing, but it’s just the way it is.”
Woolworth said she believes Republicans in the state “jerry-rigged” a vote on the amendment, which she considers to be about “control” and privacy, because they put it on the August ballot.
“Republicans turn out in August, but Democrats don’t typically do, and it’s on the ballot as a constitutional amendment because the Kansas Supreme Court already interpreted the constitution and said, ‘no,'” Woolworth said. “Last year, they had this ready to go. We knew it was coming and that is why a lot of us were already semi-prepared for this year’s vote no amendment. The Supreme Court ruling just gave us wings.”
Noting “several” restrictions already in place on abortion in Kansas, Woolworth said the procedure in the state is “already very safe” and that there are already “rules and restrictions out there.”
“It is safe, it is legal, it is fine now,” Woolworth said. “Why are we messing with it? Oh, that’s right, it’s about the right to privacy… my privacy as a woman. It is not about abortion, it’s about control.”
Woolworth said Democrats in the state have a “huge challenge” in picking up support from those in western Kansas.
Last month, a group of more than 200 Kansas medical and mental health professionals announced support for the Value Them Both amendment. The group consisted of more than 120 doctors, including nine OBGYNs, 70 family medicine physicians, and additional representatives from the fields of neurosurgery, cardiology, anesthesia, surgery, pediatrics, internal medicine, pathology, emergency medicine, and other essential specialties.
Sam Dorman contributed to this article.