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Kansas Personhood Amendment Blocked by House Leadership
Topeka, Kan. – 2/7/2012 -- A state constitutional amendment (HCR 5029), proposed by 25 House lawmakers, that guarantees the inalienable right to life of every human being at every age has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee by Speaker Mike O’Neal. Personhood Kansas, the coalition of pro-life citizens and organizations backing the measure, reports that Chairman Rep. Lance Kinzer is refusing to schedule the measure for a hearing.
Recently, O’Neal told the Topeka Capital-Journal that 2011 was “a very good year” for the Kansas pro-life movement. “I'm not looking for anything else to add to a very ambitious agenda,” he said. Likewise, Kinzer expressed his opposition to the measure, telling the AP, "There are some other areas where we can get a real-world impact quicker.”
One law intended to have such an impact was last year’s Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (HB2218) which limits abortions to those committed against preborn babies younger than 22 weeks old. The most recent statistics published by the Kansas Health Department show that in 2010, before the measure was enacted, 8,338 children lost their lives to abortion. Of these, 8,337 were committed before the new 22 week legal barrier.
Other bills passed into law last session dealing with the issues of clinic licensing, abortion reporting, and the defunding of Planned Parenthood are tied up in court. House Minority Leader Paul Davis told the Capital-Journal, "People are just tired of us spending a lot of time debating abortion.”
“Davis is right. Let’s have this out. Do preborn babies have a God-given right to life or not?” said Personhood Kansas Committee Chairman Bruce Garren.
On record, Kinzer informed Garren that he intends to block the measure in committee because, he said, “It will not save a single baby’s life” and “it will strengthen rather than weaken the legal underpinnings of Roe [v. Wade].”
Kinzer’s statement runs counter to the opinion of the majority of pro-life organizations and pro-life constitutional law attorneys such as Robert J. Muise, Esq. of the Thomas More Law Center who wrote of the personhood strategy:
“Thus, in many respects, the best case to present to the Court is one in which a state is seeking to protect human life as a matter of state constitutional law. For a state to amend its constitution to protect life speaks volumes to the Court. And it is perhaps the best case scenario to tip the balance of the scale with Justice Kennedy… [I]t is a fundamental principle of law that when there is no clear majority opinion in the Court, the holding of the Court is based on the narrowest grounds for the decision… It borders on the ridiculous to take a position that Justice Kennedy—a National Right to Life Committee endorsed judicial nominee who opposed abortion but changed his vote only at the 11th hour in Casey…would suddenly transmogrify into an abortion-loving crony of Justice Ginsburg. Indeed, it is far more likely that Justice Kennedy would follow the Chief Justice and Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito—his closer companions—and uphold the proposed amendment, reversing Roe.”
“Across America, pro-lifers agree that personhood is the key to ending abortion, and they believe that now is the opportune time to pursue the equal protection of every person,” explained Garren. “The state’s abortionists may have little to worry about this session unless the people of Kansas demand a vote on this.”
Kansans for Life also announced last week that they intend to back the Life Begins at Conception Act (HB 2579), a measure the Kansas legislative website appropriately calls a “legislative declaration that life begins at conception.” The bill includes language limiting its scope, rendering it incapable of presenting a challenge to Roe v. Wade or having any effect on Kansas abortion law, and therefore not capable of saving a single baby’s life.
“We are saddened and disappointed that Kansans for Life and a few key players in the legislature have decided to take personhood off the table and design a bill to represent a legitimate pro-life effort,” continued Garren. “The new proposal is an imitation that further expands the authority of the courts and subjugates the will of the people of Kansas to an all too powerful judiciary.”