Viewpoints

A Republican Plan to Eliminate the Rights of Women

10/5/22
By: Lena Gill

A ballot effort to remove reproductive rights from the Kansas Constitution lost by 18 percent in Kansas’ primary election. 59 percent of Kansas women and the men that love them voted NO, party affiliation be damned. A Washington Post analysis shows that about 1 in 5 Republicans joined the NO vote in this very Republican state. More than 900,000 voters cast their votes in this primary, nearly twice as many voters as compared to the 2018 primary election.

The reason for the ballot was that in 2019 the State Supreme Court ruled that the Kansas Constitution protects “the right of personal autonomy” that “allows a woman to make her own decision regarding her body, health, family formation and family life – decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy”. At this point abortion was legal in the first 22 weeks of pregnancy.

Kansas voters’ repudiation of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization is important. For about 50 years Roe v. Wade had guaranteed women the right to an abortion within a reasonable time after conception, and this Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide is apparently based on centuries-old law. Judge Samuel Alito’s inspiration for overturning Roe v. Wade appears to be a 17th century jurist who had women executed for witchcraft and wrote a treatise supporting marital rape; and the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the 1973 decision legalizing abortion nationwide is based upon a contested historical review of state laws in 1868.

This Supreme Court ruling is not at all representative of where voters stand today on women’s rights to make decisions concerning their own bodies based upon our 14th Amendment and their own beliefs in matters of faith; and dissenting Supreme Court justices have correctly stated that this decision undermines the court’s legitimacy. As a matter of interest, the Catholic Church spent about $2.45 million to support the ballot effort to defeat the rights of women. The two sides spent together $11 million. Planned Parenthood spent $1.4 million to defeat the ballot effort.

An Arizona judge has just reinstated an 1864 abortion ban, and a 1931 law prohibiting abortions is still on the books in Michigan. About 750,000 voters signed a petition to require putting women’s reproductive rights in the Michigan Constitution on the ballot for November, and several states are considering ballot measures to protect women’s rights. Similar referenda on women’s rights will be put to the voters in California and Vermont.

To remove a woman’s right to make her own decision regarding her body, health, family formation and family life, a right codified in our Constitution for nearly half a century, is unacceptable. This November, let us vote for candidates willing to restore women’s rights.

Lena Gill is a member of the Talbot County Democratic Forum and a resident of Easton

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