By Mike Pompeo
Editor’s note. Mike Pompeo is former U.S. secretary of state and former U.S. representative for Kansas’ 4th District. This column originally appeared at the Kansas City Star.
The state of Kansas has always been defined by leadership and courage. Its plains were home to the first generations of American settlers, who left teeming cities to lead America westward and establish new roots.
In the years prior to the Civil War, it was Kansans who stood against slavery and stopped its expansion. Kansas was the first state to hold a referendum on women’s suffrage in 1867, and Charles S. Scott, Kansas born and raised, was the lead attorney for Oliver Brown in the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education.
Kansas has always set the standard in the fight to secure inalienable rights and aid those who are most in need. That’s why at times of great division and difficulty in America, the nation looks to Kansas for the path forward.
Kansas is again going to lead the way, and this time the stakes are for life.
The Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dobbs v. Jackson finally overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the power to regulate abortion to states. All across the country, this democratic process is already underway — except in Kansas, my home state.
The right of Kansans to decide this important issue has been taken away not by the Supreme Court of the United States, but by the Supreme Court of Kansas.
In the 2019 case Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt, the Kansas Supreme Court pronounced that the state’s constitution protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, possibly causing further limits on abortion to become “presumed unconstitutional.” Many Kansans believe strongly that this sweeping decision by the Kansas Supreme Court overrode the democratic process.
The ruling already has had serious consequences in Kansas.
Abortions in the state have increased by 13% since the ruling took effect. Dilation and evacuation abortions (often referred to as “dismemberment abortions”) have increased by 17% since 2019, according to Kansas Department of Health statistics. This method of abortion, in addition to its particularly barbarous cruelty to the unborn, also carries with it severe health risks for the mother, both long-term and short-term.
I am a Kansan. I’ve represented the people of Kansas and fought for them in Washington as a congressman, and also on the world stage as America’s 70th secretary of state. Kansans do not want to see their state fund abortions with taxpayer money, or have unsafe and uninspected abortion clinics in the state they call home. What every Kansan wants, fundamentally, is the right to vote on this important issue.
The Value Them Both amendment on the Aug. 2 ballot would secure this right.
It simply makes clear that the state constitution “does not create or secure a right to abortion,” and it affirms that “the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion.”
That’s it. Full stop.
Yet this simple amendment has met with severe opposition from pro-abortion radicals who favor unlimited abortion on demand, even painful late-term abortions when the child can feel excruciating pain. These extreme activists have said publicly that they don’t support abortion limits of any kind. They have fought against every reasonable limit on abortion in the Legislature and the courts.
Rather than trust the people, they are hiding behind the 2019 decision to execute their agenda. Don’t let them.
There are more than 50 pregnancy clinics all across Kansas that offer financial, emotional and medical help to women, free of charge. Many centers offer this support for up to three years after their child is born. Their work should be championed and expanded. This work is what Kansas should become known for.
I know that the people of Kansas are strong and compassionate enough to make that a reality. I also know that there is great division about this issue, both in Kansas and America. It is imperative that we remain civil and respectful despite this deep and profound disagreement. The assaults and vandalism against pregnancy centers since the Supreme Court decision are unconscionable — some of this defacing has happened in Kansas.
As secretary of state, I traveled to many countries where they still settle disputes with violence. America must be better than that. Kansas must be better than that. Public pressure weighs against those of us who fight for life. Those who have used the pro-life movement for political gain have already begun to bow to this pressure and surrender. I ask Kansans who believe in life not to surrender, never to give an inch — I know I never will.
Vote yes to the Value Them Both amendment and restore the voice of the people in Kansas.