Election Day looms for Kansans: here’s what the Sunflower State residents should know

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The federal ruling overturning Roe v. Wade raises the stakes on the upcoming state constitutional amendment vote, which will determine the future of abortion rights in Kansas. // Photo by Dylan Lysen / Kansas News Service

Looming, foreboding, apprehensive, dreading, foreshadowing, and other synonyms correlate with the sinking feeling of polls opening tomorrow for the recent Kansas election session.

Tomorrow, Aug. 2, is the long-awaited date you’ve seen posted on yard signs infiltrating almost every neighborhood across the Sunflower State. We’ll be using our neighboring city, Lawrence, KS, to give examples of where to find polling stations, voter information, and processes by which you can do your part to change the Kansas state legislature for the good of all.

The leading ballot item regards the (intentionally) complicated Value Them Both amendment, concerning legislative protections over abortion rights within the Kansas Constitution. But that’s not the only choice facing Kansas voters in the morning.

For Republicans, the choice of a primary candidate to run for Kansas Attorney General remains, alongside the selection of a state treasurer candidate. Attorney General Candidates include former Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Sen. Kellie Warren, and former Assistant United States Attorney Tony Mattivi. State Treasurer candidates are Sen. Caryn Tyson and Rep. Steven Johnson.

[Editor’s note: Kobach is responsible for a host of legislative failures for the state, including leaking Social Security numbers of state employees, and was an active voice in claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, so mayyyyyybe don’t run with that guy.]

Democrats face a six-way primary selection of a candidate to run against Senator Jerry Moran in November. Contestants for primary selection include Mike Andra, Paul Buskirk, former Kansas City Mayor Rev. Mark R. Holland, Robert Klingenberg, the first openly gay candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas Michael Soetaert, and Patrick Wiesner.

But back to our hot-button political issue coverage. Amendment 2 breaks down thusly:

Voting No: 

If the Vote No movement wins, people with the capacity for pregnancy will be protected under the Kansas Constitution in their efforts to procure abortions and abortion healthcare when the constitution is amended in August.

The Vote No organization’s website states, “Don’t be fooled by the tricks of the Value Them Both campaign. Their plan is a total ban on abortion and criminalization of miscarriages & fertility treatments like IVF. Amending the Kansas Constitution is just the first step in their extreme plan.”

You might be wondering how fertility treatments and regimen treatments like IVF come into play on the subject of abortion.

Melinda Lavon, Chair of Vote No Kansas, explains that if the Value Them Both amendment is passed, physicians across the state could be liable to felony charges if an embryo is lost during IVF treatments. These charges correlate with Kansas House Bill 2746 (HB 2746), which states that any loss of a fertilized embryo is considered unlawful destruction and therefore an unlawful abortion.

Lavon serves as a Midwife during her day job, offering her services in Lawrence, and Chanute, KS. This hands-on experience, paired with her work at Vote No, led her to gain introspective experiences with healthcare offered across the state.

“Abortion care is difficult to get no matter who you are, no matter where you are.” Lavon says, “I mean, it costs $700 even to get 40 cents worth of pills. You need two appointments, a sonogram, and more.”

Rural areas across the state aren’t even concerned with abortion access when they can’t keep Obstetricians and Labor & Delivery units open in local hospitals. It’s a completely different ballgame. Lavon says that the voting results may be surprising, as more Republicans group up against the Value Them Both amendment and reproductive rights—in all aspects—are taken more seriously leading up to the vote.

Voting Yes: 

A vote yes on the ballots tomorrow serves as a vote in support of the Value Them Both amendment.

Value Them Both states that by removing protective legislation for abortion, any mother and child in the state are being equally valued. The success of Value Them Both passing would open the floor for legislators to pass bills banning and defunding abortion healthcare throughout Kansas. The Value Them Both amendment says that legislators will take further action in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, and abortion protections that act as life-saving healthcare, to save the mother.

Covered by legalese and feigned pathos, Value Them Both aims to present a legal fastlane to rid Kansas of any remaining abortion opportunities for residents.

The Value Them Both campaign was reached out to for further comment on this article, and it will be updated should they return our request.

What does it mean for the future?

Great question! We’re so glad you asked.

Either outcome–voting yes or voting no–will effectively change the constitutional legislature in Kansas. Using our handy dandy Click remote, let’s rewind about seven years.

2015 served as an important year in the scope of reproductive healthcare for Kansans, legislators banned dilation and evacuation procedures, traditionally used in the second trimester of pregnancy.

The ban was quickly followed by a lawsuit from two Overland Park doctors and soon after made its way up to the Kansas Supreme Court. The ruling over the lawsuit came down in 2019, when the justices decided that the Kansas Constitution protects bodily autonomy and the choice to end a pregnancy.

The Value Them Both amendment, paired with the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24, serves as a dangerous escalation of the removal of legal protection for American citizens capable of giving birth. Though Kansas was nearly the only state in the Midwest without trigger legislation enacted in the event of Roe’s overturn, tomorrow’s referendum from Kansas voters places a spotlight on the future of reproductive freedoms within other legally borderline states.

By voting no, abortions would continue to operate under current statewide regulations—which can be considered “stringent” at best—it simply asks for the right to personal choice regarding reproductive healthcare and privacy. Abortions are far from being free range in Kansas.

The Center for Reproductive Rights says that abortion access after 22 weeks of pregnancy is practically nonexistent at the moment. Other qualifying abortion protocols include extensive paperwork, ultrasounds, parental consent for minors, and in-person appointments and check-ups. All facilities where abortions are performed also face mandatory code adherence from the state health department and licensing requirements.

Like any other legislative issue, any changes to the current abortion legislation in Kansas would be taken individually. Each lawsuit or ask for change would be passed through the state court system, and decisions would be made accordingly. Nothing would immediately change if Vote No were to pass, and the 2019 lawsuit decision would remain intact. But, if Value Them Both passes, this lawsuit would be eradicated, and further power plays to redact and restrict abortion access would have to be made by the legislators in Topeka.

Voting Information:

Where can I vote?

Your local government should have a website and online resources for what to bring with you, what polling district you’re located in, and more ballot information.

There are 77 precincts that Lawrence is divvied into for Douglas County residents, and the complete list of polling locations can be found on the Douglas County website.

Since we’re only a day out, mail-in ballots have already been sent out, and voting registration to qualify for this election has been closed. But, Douglas County also lists future voting resources, tips for getting your registration set up, and effective ways to communicate with county officials.

When do the polls open?

Each polling location in Douglas County is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

What should I bring with me when I vote?

In Douglas County, the most important document to bring with you is a valid photo ID. These identification documents include any of the following: your driver’s license, U.S. passport, Kansas concealed carry license, U.S. military ID, or student ID. For more information on what is considered a valid ID, and other forms of identification, you can find those listings here.

Categories: Politics