TOPEKA — Late last month, the Federal and State Affairs Committee held a hearing over HCR 5004, which would amend Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution to extend the rights of Kansans to include fertilized eggs, thus effectively banning abortion.
The resolution is one of several “personhood” bills introduced across the United States in recent months.
Proponents of the resolution included representatives from several religious and pro-life organizations. Most of their arguments at the March 21 hearing centered around the morality of abortion.
“The truth is, no nation ever survives that kills its babies. So, if we want our nation to survive, we need to stop,” said Rep. Randy Gardner (R-Sabetha), sponsor of HCR 5004.
Opponents of HCR 5004 pointed to other states that have failed to pass the amendment.
“State after state, from North Dakota to Colorado to deep red Mississippi, has rejected personhood initiatives when they appeared on the ballot because they know the consequences are too dire,” said Rachel Sweet, regional director of Public Policy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
HCR 5004 is not the only bill of its kind currently working its way through state legislatures.
Last month, South Carolina’s legislature introduced the “Personhood Act of South Carolina,” which, like HCR 5004, would alter the state’s constitution to give rights to “preborn human being vests at fertilization.” A similar act was introduced the year before, but was blocked by the Senate.
Georgia’s “Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act,” which would ban abortions once the fetus has a heartbeat, recently passed in the Georgia House and Senate, and is pending approval by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. The Writers Guild of America wrote a letter in response to the bill that states if it passes, Georgia will not be a preferable place for people in the film and television industry to work.
The ACLU also released a statement regarding the bill, stating that if passed, the organization would take legal action.
“If Gov. Kemp signs this abortion ban bill into law, the ACLU has one message: we will see you in court,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia.
In February, 27 Republican Kansas senators sponsored Senate Resolution 1606, also known as “condemning the Reproductive Health Act of New York.” The aforementioned health act was passed in January and clarifies that abortion is legal in New York if it occurs before the 24th week of pregnancy, is “necessary to protect the patient’s life or health” or if the fetus is not viable.
SCR 1606 called for New York legislatures to “reinstate protections for women and unborn children in their state.”
Current Kansas abortion law requires patients to receive counseling then wait 24 hours to have the procedure. Additionally, abortion is only legal after 20 weeks if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger.
The amendment needs to be passed by the House and Senate with a two-thirds majority to make it on the ballot in November 2020.
Kate Mays is a University of Kansas senior from Lenexa majoring in journalism.