Coalition formed to oppose abortion amendment

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(Editor’s note: This story was resent because of a technical error that deleted the original story that was posted to the website. Our apologies.)

A new coalition has quietly formed to oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would reverse a state Supreme Court ruling that found that the right to an abortion is protected by the state constitution.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom filed paperwork earlier this year as a nonprofit social welfare group under section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code.

The group finds itself on the opposite side of another social welfare group, the Value Them Both Association, which bears the name of the amendment, “Value Them Both” and is campaigning for its passage.

Even though the groups have tax-exempt status, they will still have to file finance reports showing their campaign activities.

State law requires campaign finance reports to be filed regardless of a group’s tax status if it accepts donations to influence the vote on a constitutional amendment.

The coalition created to oppose the amendment has a board of directors that includes representatives of Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas, the Kansas Values Institute, Trust Women and URGE: United for Reproductive & Gender Equity.

State records show that Rachel Sweet represents Planned Parenthood, Evan Gates represents Kansas Values Institute and Kimberly Inez McGuire represents URGE.

Two other boards members – Julie Burkhart from Trust Women and Nadine Johnson from the ACLU – are no longer with their respective organizations and will be replaced by someone else from their organization. Those replacements have not been identified.

Sweet is the group’s registered agent. Sweet said it would be reasonable to assume that most of the campaign fundraising would be funneled through the group.

Sweet said the group has a target of how much it would like to spend, but she declined to discuss those details.

If other states are an indicator, opponents of the amendment will likely have more money to draw from than its supporters although the election will be held during a Republican primary when conservative voters tend to have more influence in the election results.

The Tennessee constitutional amendment passed with about 53% of the vote, even though abortion rights supporters spent $4.5 million campaigning against the amendment.

About $2.4 million was spent campaigning for the amendment, which said that nothing in the Tennessee constitution protects a right to an abortion.

In Alabama, abortion rights supporters spent about $1.4 million trying to defeat a constitutional amendment that won with 59% of the vote in 2018.

By comparisons, supporters spent just about $8,000.

On the other side of the abortion amendment in Kansas is Value Them Both Association, a 501(c)(4) organization based in Overland Park.

The leadership of the group includes Kansans for Life, Kansas Family Voice (once known as the Kansas Family Policy Alliance) and the Kansas Catholic Conference.

The group has been active with ads on Facebook throughout the fall and still had a presence on the social media platform into mid-December.

Yard signs for the amendment have already been cropping up in different parts of the state and the Knights of Columbus Council in Seneca put up a billboard ad promoting the amendment along U.S. 36.