Yesterday, Kansas held a popular referendum on a constitutional measure that would have allowed the state legislature to regulate the killing of preborn children.
The result was a resounding victory for abortion advocates with close to 60% of voters rejecting the amendment and upholding a status quo that essentially places no limits on killing children before birth.
The Kansas vote was closely watched by political operatives at the national level because it was the first state battle over abortion after the Supreme Court returned the matter to the states. Democrats also hope to capitalize on abortion to recapture some of the momentum lost by President Biden’s failing administration.
Popular Sovereignty: A Historical Perspective
Abortion and slavery bear many substantive similarities, but in Kansas, history provides a political analogy that is incredibly fitting.
In 1854, as the nation expanded westward, a fiercely divided Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act, a law that effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise and allowed the territories of Kansas and Nebraska the right to vote to decide if they would become a free or a slave state.
Popular sovereignty was the idea that the people would be able to resolve, through elections, the national conflict between the North and the South over the issue of slavery.
In the Dobbs v. Jackson decision, the Supreme Court adopted a similar idea to that of popular sovereignty in the antebellum period. Whereas the Kansas-Nebraska Act overturned the Missouri compromise and returned to the new states the right to decide whether they would allow the institution of slavery, The Dobbs opinion overturned Roe v. Wade allowing states to decide how to deal with abortion.
It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives. “The permissibility of abortion, and the limitations, upon it, are to be resolved like most important questions in our democracy: by citizens trying to persuade one another and then voting.” Casey, 505 U. S., at 979 (Scalia, J., concurring in judgment in part and dissenting in part). That is what the Constitution and the rule of law demand.Dobbs v Jackson
Attempting to resolve fundamental moral questions like slavery or the right to life by appealing to politics is not a wise decision and Kansas may be the perfect historical cautionary tale.
For the next seven years after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act the political issue of slavery tore the state of Kansas apart.
Northern anti-slavery settlers moved to Kansas to try to keep the state from becoming a slave state, while supporters of slavery poured over from Missouri to sway votes during elections. The conflict resulted in political atrocities, dozens of murders and eventually a national civil war.
With yesterday’s vote on abortion, Kansas has once again chosen the side of injustice in the free exercise of its popular sovereignty, but surely just as before, the issue will not be settled after one vote.
The history of slavery in Kansas teaches us that fundamental matters require fundamental solutions, and those cannot be resolved by political compromise.
Interestingly, the Value Them Both Amendment with its vague neutral language on abortion would itself not have resolved the question of abortion or the right to life of the preborn since all it did was nullify the Kansas Supreme Court’s unilateral decision to put its thumb on the pro-abortion side of the scale. The Amendment itself would not have protected a single baby, although it would have allowed legislators to attempt to do so in the future.
Background to the Amendment
The Hodes case
In 2015, the Kansas legislature passed a law to restrict abortions in the second trimester. The radical pro-abortion law firm Center for Reproductive Rights sued them in the state court arguing that the Kansas bill of rights intended to guarantee the right to kill reborn children. Of course, the constitution says nothing of the sort, but the state Supreme Court was stacked with liberal justices put there by the liberal state bar association and the case was decided before it was ever heard. In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that abortion was a fundamental right under the state constitution to an even broader extent than Roe v. Wade, which already protected abortion on demand until birth.
The Love Them Both Amendment
After the Hodes decision, Kansas for Life, one of the nation’s strongest state affiliates of the National Right to Life committee, lobbied the legislature to write an amendment to the state constitution overruling the Hodes decision.
The language of the amendment was based on Tennessee’s Amendment 1, which passed in a similar vote by a margin 4% in the Volunteer State in 2014.
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.Kansas Value Them Both Amendment
Pro-life critics of the Value them Both Amendment noted that the wording of the amendment failed to mention the right to life and put unnecessary attention on abortion in the cases of rape and medical emergencies.
Abortion is Not A Republican vs. Democrat Issue
Although the mainstream media is highly partisan and is reporting the vote in Kansas as a referendum on the Republican Party’s pro-life position, the results of the entire primary election in Kansas show that while almost all Democrats favor legalized child killing, many Republicans do so as well.
The Associated Press reported the political implications of the Kansas vote in the following terms:
The vote also provided a dash of hope for Democrats nationwide grasping for a game-changer during an election year otherwise filled with dark omens for their prospects in November.AP
Yet, the turnout tells a different story than Democrat operatives in the media would have us believe. While the Value Them Both Amendment lost by almost 20% statewide, the Republican turnout for statewide offices was much larger than the Democrats and Republican statewide candidates received more votes than the pro-abortion Democrat candidates. This means that many Republicans voted for nominally pro-life candidates for office while also voting against the Amendment.
Today, the divide of abortion is not a North and South divide or even a Republican vs. Democrat issue. Instead, it is much more of a rural vs. suburban divide and a religious vs. atheist divide. The map of the results of the Value Them Both Amendment clearly shows how the rural areas voted against considering the killing of the preborn as a constitutional right, while the suburban and metropolitan areas, the big cities, all voted overwhelmingly to continue legalized child killing.
A Path Forward
The Problem With Statewide Pro-Life Referendums
Even before the Dobbs decision, state-wide referendums on abortion have always attracted massive amounts of political donations from abortionists as well as an absolute barrage of pro-abortion unpaid propaganda (earned media) from the mainstream media.
As a result, abortion referendums almost always turn out badly for the pro-life side regardless of the language of the measure or even the state where it is being considered.
In South Dakota, abortion bans were defeated in 2006 and 2008. In Colorado, the Personhood Amendments, which would have recognized the preborn child as a person was defeated by roughly three times in 2008, 2010, and 2014. In 2020, Colorado voters even rejected a law to outlaw abortions only in the third trimester. In the hyper conservative state of Mississippi, the Personhood Amendment was defeated in 2011. In North Dakota the Human Life Amendment recognizing the right to life from conception went down in 2014.
In the case of the Value Them Both campaign, the national focus was more intense than in the others, but the basic factors determining the outcome remain surprisingly stable across all state wide votes on abortion.
- Abortionists and abortion advocates pour funds from out of state into advertising campaigns focusing on deceptive arguments intended to scare voters into believing women will die without abortion.
- The local media, based in the big cities, will not only carry the paid advertising from pro-abortion interests, but will then give unlimited earned media in the form of pro-abortion propaganda on a round-the-clock basis.
- Democrat political operatives will fully engage with the pro-abortion side, turning out the vote in droves, while the Republican party machine, controlled by “moderate” fiscal conservatives, will pay little more than lip service to the pro-life side.
- The expert “analysis” of the proposed measures carried by the media will, no matter what the measures actually state, focus almost exclusively on the extremely rare cases that can frighten the voters and almost never on the 99.9% of cases dealing with healthy babies and healthy mothers being killed for the profit of the abortionists.
Solution? Fight Local Battles and Pull No Punches
Losses like the one in Kansas should teach pro-lifers that large scale campaigns in which the corporate media and professional get-out-the-vote operations in densely populated suburban areas have an outsized impact are losing battles no matter how mild the pro-life proposal being presented or how conservative the state supposedly is.
Instead, Pro-lifers need to gain absolute control of state legislatures by focusing on the less glamorous but much more winnable local legislative elections.
Because state legislatures are geographically representative, morally bankrupt urban areas can be abandoned and resources can be poured into rural areas where Christian believers are much less likely to be impacted by the lies and distortions of abortion advocates and their mouthpieces in the media. Win the rural areas and pro-lifers can win 75% of the state legislatures.
Pro-lifers also need to pay attention to the state judiciary. In states, like Kansas, where the state bar association controls appointments to the State Supreme Court, judicial reform must be a top priority. Otherwise woke state supreme courts will simply legislate their personal immoral beliefs into law.
Sanctuary Cities for Life
Another important local effort every pro-lifer in rural America should be involved in is the Sanctuary City for Life movement. These local measures leverage the strength and cohesion of local communities against the pro-abortion elites in the big cities and the media. Most importantly they permit local communities to begin to build a real culture of life, not just in theory but in practice; activating local churches and local resources to help families and children in need.
Abortion is not a political issue. Abortion is the worst crime against humanity imaginable and therefore it is a fundamental human rights issue. It completely dehumanizes the innocent baby in her mother’s womb and attempts to make the killing of that child a “right”. Worst of all, abortion, attempts to convince parents that to thrive they must sacrifice their own children as if we were hyenas or some species of animals that eats its young.
Abortion needs to be treated as a threat to national security much more so than any foreign enemy.
Abortion normalizes the destruction of the innocent child in the womb, it destroys the family, it drenches civil society in blood, and nullifies the main purpose of the constitution which is to defend the right to life and that of our posterity.
While remaining peaceful, we must not be afraid to absolutely reject abortion and those who peddle its long train of destruction and misery. We cannot continue to consume mainstream media. Turn off your TV’s and stop subsidizing pro-abortion corporations whenever possible.
We must not be afraid to express the murderous nature of abortion, show graphic pictures and express ourselves boldly..
As with an enemy in battle, there can be no compromise with the peddlers of death.
We must start to be pro-life without exceptions, without compromise and without apology.
Either we succeed in protecting all innocent human beings by love and by law as full persons with fundamental rights or history will repeat itself and our nation will crumble under tyranny, anarchy or civil war.
If Kansas teaches anything it is this: a political compromise with evil only leads to greater evil.