Value Them Both amasses $1.2 million heading into election

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More than $1.2 million has been raised for the campaign to pass a constitutional amendment reversing a state Supreme Court ruling that found the right to an abortion is protected by the state constitution.

Three groups supporting the constitutional amendment – the Value Them Both Association, Kansans for Life and Save the Babies PAC – amassed $1.25 million during 2021 as they prepare for the upcoming battle over the constitutional amendment.

The Kansas Family Policy Alliance, now known as Kansas Family Voice, raised about $4,800.

Former Congressman Tim Huelskamp recently set up a PAC to raise money to campaign for the amendment, but it was after the first of the year.

The group opposing the amendment – Kansans for Constitutional Freedom – reported raising almost $600,000 in contributions of which $461,000 was cash.

The Value Them Both Association, a 501(c)(4) organization based in Overland Park, carried the fundraising load as it brought in nearly $1.23 million last year, campaign reports show.

It had about $1 million on hand going into the election, which was more than any candidate running for statewide office not counting governor.

The group received $500,000 from the Archdiocese of Kansas City, $250,000 from the  Catholic Diocese of Wichita and $10,000 from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City.

It also received another $385,000 from Kansans for Life, which is part of the Value Them Both Association along with Kansas Family Voice and the Kansas Catholic Conference.

The Church of the Ascension in Overland Park gave the campaign $10,000.

One expert on abortion politics called the amount raised to oppose the amendment “impressive.”

“It is typically the case that abortion rights proponents have spent more in their attempts to defeat these kinds of measures than groups who support their passage,” said Glen Halva-Neubauer, who studies abortion politics at Furman University.

“Of course, the amount of money raised has not been the determining factor in whether these measures passed,” Halva-Neubauer said. “Those raising the greatest sums of money have often lost.”

“Still, this is a sign that abortion opponents are off to a good start in their campaign to eliminate the Sunflower State’s constitutional provisions protecting abortion,” he said

In similar campaign in Alabama in 2018, abortion rights supporters spent about $1.4 million trying to defeat that amendment compared to just about $8,000 spent by their rivals. The amendment won with 59% of the vote.

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

The Kansas campaign for the amendment is off to a much more earnest start than in Tennessee, where one of the primary groups supporting the amendment reported raising $1,380 a year ahead of the 2014 referendum.

While fundraising may be off to a healthy start, Halva-Neubauer cautioned about the potential fallout from an U.S. Supreme Court decision in a Mississippi case that could overturn Roe v. Wade.

The court could render a decision in that case less than two months before Kansans are expected to go to the polls and decide on the amendment.

“One wonders, however, what impact the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision might have on this debate if in deciding the Mississippi case, it abandons Roe,” he said.

“Would it spur more fundraising efforts to keep abortion legal in Kansas? Time will tell.”

Kansans for Life has said previously that it thinks the Mississippi case plays into its campaign.

“The more the federal case comes into focus for the public, the greater that spotlight is going to be on the abortion industry’s extreme position,” said Danielle Underwood, spokeswoman for Kansans for Life said in an interview last year.

“This whole thing is going to be a big educational process for the people of Kansas.”

Supporters of the amendment have been campaigning since at least September, when it ran digital ads on Facebook.

There were six variations of the ad that cost somewhere from an estimated $3,100 to $4,095, according to the Facebook Ad Library.

The ads were seen by somewhere between 275,000 and 330,000 times on Facebook, which could include multiple views by the same platform user.

The group targeted self-identified conservatives over 18.

One ad featured former disgraced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and asks why Kansas is becoming the “new New York of abortion.”

Another ad quoted a 2019 Washington Post article suggesting that Kansas is becoming a “haven state in the Midwest” for abortion.

Kansans for Constitutional Freedom have been running digital ads on Facebook comparing Kansas to Texas when stressing the importance of abortion rights.

“First Texas, now Kansas,” one ad says. “Help keep abortion safe and legal in Kansas.”

Another ad says that passage of the amendment will lead to an abortion ban in Kansas.

“Topeka politicians put a constitutional amendment on the August 2022 primary ballot that will pave the way to a total abortion ban in our state,” another ad says.

“They are willing to spend whatever it takes to eliminate our rights at the primary ballot this year,” the ad says.

“It’s on us to keep abortion safe and legal in Kansas.”