Recently, Gov. Jeff Colyer and select state representatives announced their goal to amend the Kansas constitution, taking away the right to abortion care.
First, a brief history lesson is in order. Abortion is a federally protected right under Roe vs. Wade, which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. Roe determined, 45 years ago, that the right to privacy be extended to people who need access to abortion care.
After Roe was handed down, countless lives of women, who otherwise would have senselessly died due to unsafe conditions, were saved.
Unfortunately, Colyer is willing to spend millions of dollars to “outlaw” abortion in Kansas, which will do nothing to the status of abortion as we know it now. This obvious political move by the governor and other legislators who stand with him, will do nothing to further the serious state of affairs in the Capitol, such as equitable funding for public education, tax reform and rural health care delivery. In fact, Colyer’s actions show just how out of touch he really is with Kansans.
Poll after poll have shown that the majority of Kansans are supportive of access to abortion care. Only 15 to 18 percent of Kansans agree that women should never, under any circumstance, have access to reproductive health care. It is also important to point out that just because abortion may be severely restricted or outlawed, does not mean that abortion will not occur.
Restrictions and prohibitions on abortion only put people’s health and lives at greater risk.
Let’s say that the state of Kansas were able to more fully restrict access to abortion care. Look at whose health would be jeopardized. Approximately 70 percent of our client base — which is higher than the national average — are already mothers. A vast majority of women who access abortion care also subscribe to some form of spiritual practice, which assists them in their decision-making process.
Since private insurance, as well as Medicaid, are banned from use in Kansas, in 2017 alone, we provided over $334,000 in funding for our patients. Due to health care inequality, due to a lack of Medicaid expansion and limited rural health care options, we consistently provide free-to-low-cost long acting reversible contraceptives so that women can control their fertility and plan their families better.
By limiting access to reproductive health care in Kansas, through an unnecessary and (un)constitutional amendment, the governor would only be putting the lives of hundreds of thousands of women and their families at risk.
Why not take the projected $2 million for this amendment, and put it toward education, broad access to contraception and infrastructure for our rural areas. This is what would truly make a difference in the lives of all the hardworking Kansans across this great state.
Julie A. Burkhart is the founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation, which operates Trust Women Wichita.