Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women. COURTESY PHOTO

Kansas politicians are fast-tracking two bills — HCR 5003 and SCR 1602 — which aim to severely impact women’s ability to receive safe and legal reproductive health care. The bills were introduced last week and are set to be on the House and Senate floors in the very near future.

The intent of each bill is to amend the constitution to remove the right of Kansans to personal and bodily autonomy, including the right to have an abortion. This is the first step in advancing an outright ban on all abortions and putting the government squarely in between women and their private medical decisions.

The so-called “Value Them Both” amendment is a cynical redo of last year’s failed attempt to reverse the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision in Hodes vs. Schmidt, which found that, in Kansas, women are guaranteed the same right to bodily autonomy as do their male counterparts. Despite Kansans’ nuanced opinions on abortion, we share an independent spirit and believe that our fellow citizens and neighbors deserve to live their lives as they see fit, free from interference from politicians. How can a proposal to amend the constitution be helpful to all citizens, when it clearly seeks to deny Kansas women the right to make the best possible decision for each pregnancy?

My organization, Trust Women, has spent countless hours across the state of Kansas canvassing door-to-door in urban and rural communities, talking with people from all walks of life about reproductive health care. What we hear, repeatedly, are the abortion stories told to us on people’s doorsteps. Each person’s story is unique, but what is common across all stories is the thought and care that went into making the decision to have an abortion.

Anti-choice proponents paint a picture of women who have abortions as selfish, uneducated or misled by their doctors. In reality, a majority — 70% — of women who visit our clinics are already mothers who only want the best for the children they already have. Women spend time considering their options and consulting with medical professionals before choosing the right path for themselves and their families.

Many people may think an amendment such as the one currently being pushed at breakneck speed will have no negative impact. In fact, abortion is a common and safe medical procedure. Approximately one in four women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old — around half of those women will have more than one abortion procedure. Far from being a niche issue with small impact, this amendment will pit the state against women, criminalizing their choices and leaving them with no options, which will ultimately lead to damaging, dangerous health outcomes.

The anti-choice politicians in the legislature intend to use their muscle to push through this irresponsible and dangerous amendment as quickly as possible, hoping for a vote by Kansans in August of 2022. As freethinking, rational and compassionate citizens, we owe it to the women in our lives to speak out against this legislation. We all know women who have had abortions, whether or not they speak about it. I hope Kansans will call their legislators and ask them to vote no on these resolutions. Even if politicians succeed in restricting or banning essential reproductive health care, it will not erase abortion from the fabric of society, whether legal or illegal.

I would rather help create a society where women and families are healthier, their personal freedom is respected and politicians know better than to intrude into matters where they do not belong. Our society has nothing to gain by taking away the rights of its citizens.Julie A. Burkhart is the founder and CEO of Trust Women, a reproductive rights organization.

Source: https://www.kansas.com/opinion/guest-commentary/article248638125.html?fbclid=IwAR0sWo5dVFtgKfzsmDtkLiF2wKaA30eX_Xfh2ZovhqfdnHGeOl8OgcWnj4M