Kansas and Iowa faced similar pro-life dilemmas: their respective state supreme courts discovered a fundamental right to abortion in their respective state constitutions, curtailing their legislatures’ ability to regulate abortion. Kansas put forth the “Value Them Both Amendment” to return the power to the legislature.
Kansas voters rejected the amendment in a lopsided loss for pro-lifers: 59% against and 41% for. Iowa legislators are at work on a similar amendment, the Protect Life Amendment (PLA).
The PLA has passed one legislative session already. It must pass another legislative session, at which point it goes to a vote of the people, just as Kansas’ Value Them Both amendment did.
In light of Kansas’ voters rebuke of a pro-life Amendment, how does this affect Iowa’s efforts, if at all? Let’s take a closer look at what happened in Kansas.
What was the wording of the Value Them Both Amendment?
“§ 22. Regulation of abortion. Because Kansans value both women and children, the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion. To the extent permitted by the constitution of the United States, the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, laws that account for circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, or circumstances of necessity to save the life of the mother.”
Critics claim the wording was unclear. And at 88 words, it is much longer than Iowa’s more succinct 53 word Protect Life Amendment:
“Life. To defend the dignity of all human life and protect unborn children from efforts to expand abortion even to the point of birth, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion.”
Which side spent the most money on the Kansas amendment, pro-lifers or pro-abortion?
According to Flatland, the Kansas City PBS’ digital magazine, the pro-abortion side outspent pro-lifers by about $1.2 million. Most of their money flowed from out-of-state special interests. In contrast, most of the pro-life monies came from in-state sources, such as the Archdiocese of Kansas city, KS and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. The spending differential hurt the pro-life side.
Did the overturning of Roe v Wade have any effect on the Kansas vote? In other words, was the pro-abortion side energized?
Apparently yes, according to Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference who said the Dobbs decision “really changed the trajectory of the abortion legal landscape. That energized the abortion industry beyond I think anyone’s anticipation.”
Was media reporting balanced?
No, according to Weber. The end of Roe created confusion among voters who didn’t realize the Roe didn’t ban abortions:
“That created an environment of confusion, we believe, that led the country, but also particularly in Kansas, into a narrative that the abortion industry pounced upon: that women were not going to get the authentic productive health care that they deserved if the Value Them Both amendment was passed.”
Of course, that was a “blatant despicable lie,” in Weber’s words. And the media had no interest in correcting the lie:
“Not only was the secular news media quiet about that despicable lie. But they actually served as an echo chamber. That turned into a disastrous recipe for us on election night …”
In other words, the pro-abortion side, with some help from the media, led voters to believe that a vote for the Value Them Both amendment was a vote to ban abortion.
Why would Iowa’s outcome be any different than Kansas’?
- Timing matters. The soonest Iowa voters would vote on the Protect Life Amendment is 2024, long after post-Roe passions have cooled.
- Iowa has a pro-life governor, Kim Reynolds. Kansas has a pro-abortion governor, Laura Kelly. The governor’s bully pulpit can be persuasive, especially when it comes to correcting misinformation from the other side.
- Iowa’s amendment is much clearer and concise than the wording used with the Value Them Both amendment. Big Abortion’s spokespersons will have a harder time bamboozling Iowa voters.
Pulse executive director, Maggie DeWitte, assessed the impact of the Kansas vote as follows:
“It is very clear that in Iowa and across America, life is winning. The Iowa State Supreme Court has corrected itself, the U.S. Supreme Court has corrected itself – both courts correctly ruling there is no right to kill pre-born children.
Now state after state is standing up to cherish and protect the sanctity of human life. And while the Kansas vote is disappointing, across the nation, more and more Americans are recognizing that the little child in her mother’s womb – she’s a baby, and she deserves a birthday.
In Iowa and across the U.S., life is winning. Governor Reynolds has done an excellent job appointing justices to our State Supreme Court who are faithful to the Iowa Constitution and who correctly ruled it contains no ‘fundamental right’ to abortion. These and other factors will be taken into consideration as pro-life Iowans, as always, seek the best strategies to protect mothers and pre-born children in our state.”
The pro-life movement has the momentum in Iowa and beyond, but the Kansas debacle shows that our pro-life educational outreach is more vital than ever.