News Law and Policy

Finding Popular Vote Too Risky, Kansans For Life Introduces “Backdoor Personhood” Legislation

Kari Ann Rinker

So-called "Personhood" is sexy.  It’s flashy.  It gets attention.  That is why "Personhood" is something that Kansans for Life is avoiding.

Personhood is sexy. It’s flashy. It gets attention. That is why Personhood is something that Kansans for Life is avoiding. The thought of a popular vote on the declaration of “egg-as-person” status makes them kinda squeamish and scared. That’s because the majority of people, whether they be Mississippians, Kansans or Coloradans are opposed to this kind of out-of-touch, whack-job nonsensical fanaticism.

No, Kansans for Life would just as soon carry on with their “slow and steady wins the race” legislative strategy. They prefer the pursuit of legislation that will fly under the radar, in stealth like commando fashion. No hoopla, no parades or flashy gimmicks. Just good ol’ fashioned elimination of abortion access, one itty-bitty restriction at a time.

They had been hoping that the abortion-addicted masses would just wake up one day and give up. That women would finally be unwilling to surmount the obstacles that had been so painstakingly crafted to act as obstacles between their selfish desire to not be pregnant any more and the procedure that would make that possible. Finally, unwilling to swim the moat, storm the gates, fill out the paperwork, wait 227 hours and walk over burning hot coals, then have their private medical records sorted through, scrutinized and then broadcast over television and radio airwaves, those abortion addicts would just give up. The restrictions enacted would finally prove to be too much and would deter those dirty, dirty abortion-consuming charlatans.

But this plan just didn’t work out! Women were still getting abortions in Kansas! There were 8,338 in Kansas in 2010. Although this was the lowest number since 1988, this was 8,338 too damn many for them. So this year…this year…they have decided to set forth on a new path of gestational glory with a “Life Begins at Conception Declaration”.

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House Bill 2579 does, indeed, declare that life begins at “conception.” The legislation goes on to state, “the natural parents of unborn children have protect-able interests in the life, health and well-being of the unborn children of such parents.” This appears to be an attempt to solidify “fatherhood rights” into Kansas law, “fatherhood rights” being the impregnators right to keep the impregnate-ee from obtaining an abortion.

The bill goes on to explain that this “life at conception” is subject only to the US constitution and “decisional interpretations of the United States Supreme Court”. This reads as one big, giant, anti-choice S-E-T U-P. The set up being, to solidify this “conception declaration” into law as a vehicle to invite litigation on any past, present or future abortion legislation produced by the state of Kansas…oh, and to completely eliminate abortion at all stages….well, duh.

This legislation is sort of a “backdoor personhood” effort. It is the stealth-like manner of achieving abortion-blocker, hail Mary glory. It is, indeed, a very sad state of affairs that a popular vote in the state of Kansas could act as a tool to save contraception and abortion within the state of Kansas. A popular vote could save our constitutional right to privacy, whereas the representative body elected at least in part, to protect Kansas citizens (even the women folk) and pass legislation that is expected to meet constitutional muster, simply cannot be relied upon on either count. Instead, the women of Kansas find themselves at the mercy of a fanatical element of Kansas society today…their very own elected officials.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Clinton Calls Out Debate Moderators for Ignoring Abortion

Ally Boguhn

Reproductive rights and justice advocates, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, have spent months demanding Democratic debate moderators address abortion, organizing around the hashtag #AskAboutAbortion.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) this week on the campaign trail ignored questions about whether he supports radical “personhood” legislation, while Hillary Clinton called out Democratic debate decision makers for failing to ask the candidates about abortion rights.

Clinton Critical of Democratic Debates for Ignoring Abortion Rights and Access 

After moderators at eight debates failed to ask Democratic presidential candidates about abortion, Clinton called out the unwillingness to address the issue during CNN’s Thursday debate in Brooklyn.

“You know, there is no doubt that the only people that I would ever appoint to the Supreme Court are people who believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law and Citizens United needs to be overturned. And I want to say something about this, since we’re talking about the Supreme Court and what’s at stake,” Clinton said. “We’ve had eight debates before, this is our ninth. We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care, not one question.”

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“We have states, governors doing everything they can to restrict women’s rights,” the former secretary of state continued. “We have a presidential candidate by the name of Donald Trump saying that women should be punished. And we are never asked about this.”

Fact-checking site Politifact pored over transcripts of each Democratic debate during the 2016 presidential race. “We could not find any example of a moderator asking a direct question about abortion,” the site concluded, rating the claim “true.”

Reproductive rights and justice advocates, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, have spent months demanding Democratic debate moderators address the topic, organizing around the hashtag #AskAboutAbortion.

“You might be thinking, Clinton and Sanders are both pro-choice and miles ahead of the Republican candidates, so what’s the point in talking about it? Well, both candidates support expanding health care access and regulating Wall Street, but that hasn’t stopped them from clashing over how to do it. It should be the same for abortion,” reproductive justice advocate Renee Bracey Sherman explained in an article for Glamour ahead of Thursday’s debate. “We can’t continue to allow anti-choice candidates to define the conversation. We must demand that our pro-choice politicians do more than just check the box. They must advance access to care, not maintain the status quo.”

Cruz Won’t Address His Anti-Choice Record During MSNBC Town Hall

The Texas senator on Thursday tried to gloss over his extreme anti-choice record during a town hall event hosted by MSNBC, refusing to answer eight direct questions about whether he supports so-called personhood legislation, which could outlaw abortion and many forms of contraception.

“I told you I’m not going to get into the labels, but what I will say is we should protect life. But I’m not interested in anything that restricts birth control,” Cruz said when confronted by moderator Chuck Todd about whether he supports legislation that would define life as beginning at conception, thereby granting constitutional rights to fertilized eggs, zygotes, and embryos. “And I’m not interested in anything that restricts in vitro fertilization because I think parents who are struggling to create life, to have a child, that is a wonderful thing,” continued the Republican presidential candidate.

But as MSNBC’s Jane C. Timm noted, “It’s unclear what Cruz defines to be birth control,” as he refused to answer Todd’s inquiry about whether Cruz considers intrauterine devices a form of contraception. Cruz has falsely equated some forms of hormonal contraception to “abortion-inducing drugs.

Cruz may have refused to discuss “personhood” during his MSNBC appearance, but he has, for the most part, been a vocal proponent of such legislation. The candidate in February released a video promising to “do everything” within his power to end abortion access if elected president, as Rewire reported. Cruz in the video threw his support behind a South Carolina bill that proposed giving fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses full constitutional rights.

He also gave his support for a similar measure in Georgia.

“I have been around conservatives my entire life. I have never met a single human being, in any place, who wanted to ban contraceptives,” Cruz said. Though Cruz has repeatedly alleged that Republicans have never tried to ban contraceptives, he has consistently pushed for legislation to do just that.

Along with the “personhood” measures he has supported, Cruz has crusaded to defund Planned Parenthood, applauded Texas Republicans for restricting Medicaid funding for abortion care while encouraging other states to do the same, and used his Senate seat to attempt to restrict access to contraception.

Cruz also worked to block a Washington, D.C. law to protect residents from discrimination based on their reproductive health decisions, which could have made accessing contraception more difficult had he succeeded.

What Else We’re Reading

Donald Trump’s campaign manager won’t be prosecuted for allegedly assaulting journalist Michelle Fields.

The campaigns of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Clinton are joining the Democratic Party in a lawsuit against Arizona’s Maricopa County after voters there faced hours-long waits to cast a ballot in their state’s primary. The lawsuit alleges that Arizona’s “alarmingly inadequate number of voting centers resulted in severe, inexcusable burdens on voters county-wide, as well as the ultimate disenfranchisement of untold numbers of voters who were unable or unwilling to wait in intolerably long lines.” The situation was “particularly burdensome” for communities of color, who had less placesand in some cases no placesto vote.

The New York Times’ editorial board encouraged Clinton to “say more about the crime bill” which she supported and was signed into law by her husband in 1994. Another article in the Times explained that while the bill was not singularly responsible for mass incarceration, it added to prison populations and the “results may still be playing out.”

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) couldn’t believe that a young woman at one of his campaign rallies came up with a question for him about social security on her own. “Did somebody tell you to ask this question?” Kasich asked the woman, according to the Huffington Post. “No,” she told the Republican presidential candidate. “I think for myself.”

Mother Jones’ David Corn reported that Cruz once defended a law criminalizing the sale of sex toys. In their brief, Cruz’s legal team declared, “There is no substantive-due-process right to stimulate one’s genitals for non-medical purposes unrelated to procreation or outside of an interpersonal relationship.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked a federal judge to block Kansas’ restrictive voter ID law. The GOP measure requires proof of American citizenship when registering to vote while applying for a driver’s license pending the outcome of their suit against the law. At least 16,000 people have been stopped from registering to vote by the law, according to the ACLU. The preliminary injunction would stop the law from being enforced ahead of upcoming elections in August and November.

A Black man from Wisconsin brought three forms of identification to the polls in Wisconsin and still wasn’t allowed to vote thanks to the state’s Republican-backed voter ID law.

News Politics

For Colorado GOP’s Beauprez, Stance on Federal ‘Personhood’ Legislation Remains Murky

Jason Salzman

Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who has long opposed reproductive rights, said again Thursday that he’s against Colorado’s “personhood” amendments, but he was a co-sponsor in 2005 of federal “personhood” legislation, which he continues to support.

In a debate Thursday, Colorado gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez reiterated his opposition to state “personhood” amendments, but he neglected to say he’s still supportive of federal personhood legislation.

This separates Beauprez from the Colorado Republican senatorial candidate, Cory Gardner, who withdrew his support for state personhood amendments in March, but now maintains that “there is no a federal personhood bill,” even though he’s a co-sponsor of it.

“I’m opposed to the personhood amendment,” Beauprez said during Thursday’s debate in Pueblo, as reported by the Denver Post. “I’ll tell you what I’m in favor of. I’m in favor of innocent lives.”

Shortly after Beauprez announced his bid for governor in March, he told Brandon Rittiman, a reporter for Denver’s local NBC affiliate, that he opposed Colorado’s personhood amendments.

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Critics responded to the TV interview by reminding media outlets and voters that Beauprez co-sponsored a 2005 federal personhood bill, called the Right to Life Act, which is worded similarly to the Life at Conception Act, the personhood bill co-sponsored by Gardner.

Both bills would expand the definition of a person under the 14th Amendment to include the unborn, defined as beginning at the zygote or fertilized egg stage, and thereby outlawing all abortion and some forms of birth control.

Rittiman asked Beauprez about his support of the Right to Life Act and reported, “Beauprez has certainly supported the concept of personhood in the form of federal legislation. He says his answer to 9NEWS was meant to convey that he has not supported it at the state level.”

In June, Rittiman again asked Beauprez about his personhood stance, and the former congressman was careful to separate the state amendments from the federal personhood bill.

“The personhood amendment, and that’s where we have to draw the line, the personhood amendment might have identified the right issue, but the very wrong solution,” Beauprez told Rittiman.

Beauprez essentially repeated the statement during Thursday’s debate, saying he’s opposed to the state personhood amendment, without acknowledging his backing of federal personhood legislation.

Beauprez is running in a statistical tie against pro-choice Gov. John Hickenlooper. The two have clashed repeatedly on women’s health issues, with Hickenlooper affirming his support of reproductive rights, and Beauprez articulating a firm anti-choice stance.

Hickenlooper, in another debate last week, asked Beauprez if he’d back a program offering low-cost or free contraception for young women.

Beauprez answered that he has a “big problem” using public funds on intrauterine devices (IUDs), which he called an “abortifacient” because they threaten or destroy zygotes. (Leading medical groups define pregnancy as beginning at the point of successful implantation, which means that IUDs prevent pregnancy and therefore are not abortifacients.)

When running for governor in 2006, Beauprez said he’d sign a bill banning abortion, if such legislation were presented to him as governor, and he emphasized his opposition to all abortion, even for the rape of a 16-year-old girl, saying pregnancies resulting from rape are “relatively few” and the child conceived by the rape should not be punished.

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