NASHVILLE (BP)—A Southern Baptist ethics leader and other pro-life advocates expressed disappointment but resolve in response to the rejection by Kansas voters of an amendment to affirm the state constitution does not protect the right to abortion.
Kansans defeated the Value Them Both Amendment by 59-41 percent Tuesday (Aug. 2) in the nation’s first statewide vote on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Roe v. Wade ruling. In its June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the high court returned abortion policy to the states by overruling the 1973 opinion that legalized abortion nationwide.
A response to a decision by the Kansas Supreme Court, the proposed amendment said the state constitution “does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.” The state Supreme Court had ruled in 2019 the constitution protects the right to abortion.
In an explanation provided for voters, the ballot said a vote against the amendment “could restrict the people, through their elected state legislators, from regulating abortion by leaving in place the recently recognized right to abortion.” The amendment’s supporters expressed concerns a loss in the election would make Kansas a popular destination for abortion-minded women from neighboring states with abortion bans.
The defeat of the Kansas amendment came amidst frequent actions in the post-Roe era by courts that have been both favorable and unfavorable to state bans and by the Biden administration to try to protect abortion rights.
Brent Leatherwood, acting president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, described the Kansas result as “a setback for the efforts to save lives there. At the same time, we must realize there are going to be successes and challenges now that the Dobbs decision has put the question of abortion to the states. This is why we have said all along that the fall of Roe does not mean the end of the pro-life movement, but instead it signals the beginning of a new chapter.”
Leatherwood told Baptist Press in written comments, “To win these types of initiatives, local engagement will be key. But even before that, at a more foundational level, this is why pastors and Christians must continue our good work to appeal to consciences about the sanctity of preborn lives with our neighbors and in our communities.