Kansas Lawmakers Are Coming for Our Reproductive Rights. Your State Could Be Next.

Alie Utley (center) and Joe Moyer (right) at the Kansas for Constitutional Freedom primary election watch party in Overland Park, Kan., on Aug. 2, 2022, react as Kansas primary voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed the Republican-dominated state legislature to severely restrict access to abortion. (Dave Kaup / AFP via Getty Images)

Last fall, Kansans made it clear: Abortion access is our right. Three months later, California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont made the same declaration.

An advocate for reproductive rights since the fifth grade and a Kansas resident, I was ecstatic when my state voted in favor of abortion access. But now, state lawmakers are blatantly ignoring the stance of their constituents on the fundamental right to bodily autonomy and risking the lives of people across the country.

Since the start of the 2023 Kansas state legislative session, lawmakers have already introduced four bills that would restrict abortion access statewide. This is in direct opposition to what Kansans voted for in August. Lawmakers are using our bodies as political pawns to further advance fictitious narratives that contradict scientific and medical evidence. I’m here to ring the alarm bells and warn you that even if you think abortion is safe in your state, it might not be for long.

I am a 21-year-old living in El Dorado, a town of 12,000 people in Kansas. There is no clinic within 30 miles of my home, and for residents of western Kansas, clinics that perform abortions are hundreds of miles away. While I am privileged enough to have a car and a driver’s license, I know not everyone does. Currently, 39 percent of women in America live in counties without an abortion provider, and these legislative threats terrorizing states like mine will only make it harder to access reproductive care.

A lot of people in my community thought the Kansas ballot measure was the end of the debate, but that’s proven to be false.

  • Right now, Kansas lawmakers are attempting to take away funding from low-income families to instead fund fraudulent and underhanded anti-abortion centers that utilize misinformation and fear-mongering to coerce people into not getting an abortion when it could be the right option for them.

  • Our elected officials have also proposed legislation that would allow abortion bans to take place in the state via city laws, turning the decision to implement abortion bans to the local level.

  • Lawmakers also reintroduced a bill to ban telemedicine abortions, a crucial option for the people who live in abortion deserts and would have to travel hundreds of miles to receive care. Lastly, for now, Kansas legislators are still proposing near-total abortion bans. These are all shameless attempts to find loopholes that implement abortion bans against constituents’ wills.

Pushing false information, stigma and the criminalization of abortions is a political tactic to further divide our country. The rampant confusion about where abortion is legal and how people can access it is no coincidence. Anti-abortion laws are deliberately intended to mislead people so they cannot pursue the healthcare they need.

We aren’t just seeing lawmakers act against the will of the people in Kansas.

  • In Idaho, lawmakers sent an abortion trafficking bill to the floor, attempting to make it impossible for youth to access abortions.
  • Florida Republicans just proposed a six-week abortion ban on the very first day of their legislative session, wasting no time to take their already draconian 15-week ban one step further.
  • A South Carolina woman might face the death penalty for getting an abortion.
  • Iowa introduced a total abortion ban. Nebraska is about to pass a “heartbeat” ban.
  • In Texas, one judge is trying to singlehandedly ban mifepristone.

Don’t think extremist lawmakers won’t come for your bodily autonomy next.

Americans have made it clear time and time again, in poll after poll after poll, and in ballot initiatives like ours right here in Kansas: We want abortion access that protects the ownership of our own bodies, on our own terms and without government intervention.

I’m here to raise the oversized flag that the officials we elected are ignoring their constituents, despite our voice being clear and consistent across our country. It’s on us to act now and let lawmakers know: We’re watching you and taking notes for your next election. 

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Delaney Jones is a student at Wichita State University and member of the Kansas chapter of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity (URGE).