Proposed anti-abortion amendment fails in the House

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP/WIBW) -- In a more than 5-hour call of the house, lawmakers rejected a measure to put a proposed anti-abortion amendment on the ballot.

The final vote was 80-43, failing to meet the two-thirds majority needed.

GOP leaders were looking to win over a few reluctant lawmakers, either moderate Republicans or Democrats in relatively conservative districts.

They kept House members locked in their seats without closing the roll for over 5 hours.

The amendment would have overturn a Kansas Supreme Court decision last year declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state’s Bill of Rights. The measure would have declared that the constitution doesn’t secure a right to abortion and allow lawmakers to enact restrictions as they have in the past.

The Senate approved the measure last week.

Supporters of the measure argue that they’re simply trying to return Kansas to the status quo before the state Supreme Court’s decision.

"This is a people's response to that ruling," said Jeanne Gawdun, Director of Government Relations with Kansans For Life.

She continued, "This is a people's response to say we support that legislation, we support reasonable regulations on the abortion industry, and we want our legislators to be able to listen to us and our concerns and be able to enact those laws."

They said the decision could spur challenges to a raft of regulations that lawmakers enacted over the past decade under Republican governors before Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, an abortion rights supporter, took office last year.

But abortion rights advocates have argued that the amendment is a step toward allowing GOP lawmakers to push for an outright ban if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion across the nation.

Sydney Carline, Democratic Representative from Manhattan said, "This one I really hated it because it was called "Value Them Both" but when we tried to put a life of the mother protection in, it was denied."

During the five hour call to the house, the anti-abortion group 'Kansans For Life' tried to strong arm democrats saying they would not pass Medicaid expansion if this amendment did not pass.

Gawdun said, "With the Value Them Both amendment, our concerns were addressed. Should that fail, then we have no other choice but to come out and say Medicaid expansion can not move forward unless we have the protections for the taxpayers in regards to funding abortions."

Officials on both sides said this will not be the last word on whether the measure will be put to a vote in a statewide election.

"I expect to see it again. The House bill is out there and I expect it will come back and I expect the same result," said Rep. Carline.

Gawdun said, "It's such an important amendment and so we're going to continue to work forward and continue to work with legislators as we have all session with the goal of getting this passed to the people of Kansas for a vote."