Kansas Republican leaders back constitutional amendment on abortion

2018-02-17 | The Wichita Eagle

Feb. 17--The governor and five of six members of the Kansas congressional delegation helped Kansans for Life launch a $2 million fund-raising effort Saturday to try to ensure that the Kansas Constitution doesn't guarantee women the right to an abortion.

"There's a Kansas court that has argued that the framers, framers of our Constitution, imagined abortion as a separate constitutional right," said Gov. Jeff Colyer. "This is just violence against the most basic facts."

Colyer spoke Saturday morning at a prayer breakfast put on by Kansans for Life attached to the state Republican convention in Wichita.

KFL, the state's most influential anti-abortion group, expected the event to raise between $20,000 and $30,000 toward its campaign to amend the state Constitution to make it clear that the document doesn't include the right to an abortion.

"We have been working with Kansans for Life and with many legislators across the state: How are we going to deal with this?" Colyer said. "We're calling on placing the constitutional amendment on the ballot. On the issue of life, the people should have the final say."

Joining Colyer in speaking to the group were all four Kansas members of the U.S. House -- Reps. Ron Estes, Lynn Jenkins, Roger Marshall and Kevin Yoder -- and Sen. Pat Roberts. The state's other senator, Jerry Moran, was scheduled to speak but Roberts announced Moran couldn't come because he's sick with the flu.

Rep. Ron Estes, of Wichita, said he has had several memorable pro-life experiences during his nine months in office.

One of those was being onstage at the March for Life in Washington.

"You couldn't see the end of the group of people standing on the Mall," he said. "It's really just a tremendous opportunity to be able to bond with people that are actually standing up and doing the right thing."

He said he also was moved when he got the chance to vote for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which seeks to ban abortions after 20 weeks on the theory that a fetus of that gestational age can experience pain from the procedure.

"We got it through the House of Representatives with a broad level of support," Estes said. "Unfortunately we didn't get it through the Senate. We need to get a few more senators to help our good senators in bills like that."

"We're all here today of course, because we believe in the sanctity of life," said Yoder, of Overland Park. "We fight for it in the halls of the U.S. Capitol, we fight for it in the halls of Topeka. We care about public policy, we want to ensure that Kansas first and foremost is a state that values life. That our country values life and that our elected leaders voice our opinions when they go to Washington D.C."

In addition to asking for funds for the abortion amendment, Kansans for Life officials also urged donations to Yoder's re-election campaign and to oppose Democrat Paul Davis' run to take Jenkins' seat.

Jenkins is not seeking re-election in the eastern-Kansas 2nd Congressional District and KFL leaders said Davis, a former Democratic candidate for governor, is winning the race to fill that open seat.

Also, national Democratic leadership has targeted Yoder's 3rd District seat as a possible pickup opportunity. Voters there, mostly residents of Kansas City suburbs, voted narrowly for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Dion Lefler: 316-268-6527, @DionKansas