A large gathering of anti-abortion advocates will be happening in Newton next week at an event organized to support the amendment of the Kansas Constitution. An approximately 90-minute event, the rally will support a constitutional amendment in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling and will be held at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 in Grace Community Church.
"That is the biggest sanctuary we can find," said Ray Nicodemus, a local chaplain helping with the event. "I don't know how many people will be there. I have no idea. ... We want people to be there so they can understand. Many on my group did not know what had happened or what it meant."
The event is an ecumenical "Reverse the Ruling" rally, focusing on a Kansas Supreme Court decision this past April in the case Hodes and Nauser M.D.s vs. Schmidt.
According to kscourts.org, the Supreme Court held that the Kansas Constitution protects a woman's access to abortion and the plaintiffs showed they were substantially likely to succeed on their claim challenging Senate Bill 95, which was enacted in 2015. The plaintiffs, two physicians who perform dilation and evacuation procedures, filed suit arguing the Kansas Constitution protects a woman's right to an abortion and the bill violates that right because it "prevents physicians from using the safest procedure for most second-trimester abortions." The two physicians requested a temporary injunction to stop the bill from taking effect while the case moved through the courts.
"The practical effect of the ruling is the nullification of virtually all restrictions on abortion in Kansas," said Chuck Weber, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference. "Put another way, abortion is now enshrined as a state constitutional right in Kansas and 'the law of Kansas,' is very similar to states like New York, and is now more restrictive than the more well-known federal case Roe v. Wade."
The rally on Nov. 7 will focus primarily on creating political pressure for a new constitutional amendment in Kansas that says there is not a constitutional right to abortion in Kansas.
Passing a state constitutional amendment in Kansas is a two-step process. Each chamber of the Legislature must pass the measure with a supermajority of 66%. If that happens, the question is placed on a general election ballot for a vote. The Kansas Constitution has been amended 97 times since 1857.
"Such an amendment would be a decision of the people of Kansas and will allow current laws on the books to be enforced," Weber said.
Constitutional amendments are voted on by registered voters during general elections.
"I don't care if you are pro-life or pro-choice ... my goal is let's get it on a ballot and see. They can vote no, we don't want a change," Nicodemus said. "Let's have the two sides stand up and say yea or nay."
Weber will offer a presentation about the ruling and what it means, a representative of the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas will speak, an adoption advocate will speak and a representative from Kansans For Life will be participating. There will be prayer, music and a call to action encouraging citizens to contact their Kansas state representative and Kansas state senator asking them to vote in favor of putting the amendment on the ballot.