In the summer, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for office address ahead of November’s general election. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for candidates running for seats in the Kansas House of Representatives.
We’ll be publishing the candidates’ responses to one item per day each day this week. See the candidates’ responses to yesterday’s question about inflation.
Today we’re publishing the candidates’ responses to item #3:
In August, Kansas voters rejected the “Value Them Both” amendment that would have eliminated the right to an abortion from the state constitution. Are you comfortable with the current state of abortion access in Kansas? Would you like to see more restrictions on abortion in the state? Would you like to see access to abortion expanded? Please explain your position on abortion.
Kansas House District 20
Mari-Lynn Poskin (incumbent Democrat)
Kansans made it clear that they want the legislature to stay out of women’s private medical decisions. The amendment failed in District 20 with 71.6% voting NO. Our role, as with all healthcare legislation, is to assure standards for quality and safety. I support the current laws in Kansas. My opponent has been endorsed by Kansans for Life, which made this statement, “This setback is not going to stop us. Our resolve has never been stronger than in this very moment.” This is deeply out of alignment with House District 20’s respect for and trust in women.
Carrie Rahfaldt (Republican)
Kansas voters spoke this summer, made their position clear, and that should be respected. I will always work to defend exceptions to accommodate heartbreakingly difficult situations such as rape, incest, and abnormalities which make life outside the womb impossible. As a mom myself, I understand the importance of ensuring women receive emergency care for ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages and other complications that endanger their lives. For me, I will continue to support and work to defend the commonsense restrictions that are currently state law such as limits on late-term abortion, taxpayer funding of abortion, and parental consent.
Kansas House District 27
Christi Pribula (Democrat)
The Value Them Both Constitutional Amendment was legislative overreach. It was misleading and lacked exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother. It was incredibly vague, opening the door to whatever regulations the Legislature wished to implement. I voted no, as did a majority of Kansans and 62.6% of District 27 voters. We said no and the Legislature should respect that. However, the proponents of this Amendment have given no indication they will respect the vote so voters should expect to see this come back again and again unless we repudiate it in November by voting out the members who voted to put this on our ballot.
I am an attorney, a mother and Catholic. I believe abortion is healthcare and should be safe, legal and rare. The treatments for a miscarriage and an elective abortion are often the same and abortion bans will result in untold harm to women unable to access appropriate medical care. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose abortion bans. Why do our legislators think they know more than the doctors who research and treat women? As a mother of four boys, I am intimately aware of the effects of pregnancy and childbirth on a mother’s body and ultimately, any and all decisions regarding reproductive healthcare belong between a woman, her family and her doctor without government intrusion.
If we truly desire to lower the rate of elective abortions (a laudable goal), we should increase reproductive education, improve access to contraception, living wages and affordable childcare. There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether ectopic pregnancies (where the fertilized egg implants in the fallopian tube) are considered abortion and if the fertilized egg can be removed and re-implanted in the uterus. These discussions miss the point entirely which is an ectopic pregnancy requires medical treatment by medical professionals, not the lawyers at the hospital seeking to determine if the woman’s health is sufficiently at risk to intervene and treat her ectopic pregnancy.
Abortion is already subject to multiple regulations and I am comfortable with the current regulations of abortion in Kansas, with the glaring exception that abortions are healthcare and should be treated in a hospital setting rather than a clinic besieged with protestors. As a lawyer, a woman and a mother, I expect the Kansas Legislature to accept our No vote. No means No.
Sean Tarwater (incumbent Republican)
Did not respond.
Kansas House District 28
Ace Allen (Democrat)
Abortion access as it now stands in Kansas is respectful and fair. Those who would restrict it further (as in the misnamed “Value Them Both” amendment) have paved the way to legislation—already drafted and ready to propose when the legislature convenes in January—that would enshrine a particular religious dogma: that the “right to life” of an embryo or fetus overrides the right to life of the woman carrying the embryo or fetus. This does not “value them both.” No exceptions for fetal anomalies, nor for pregnancy and obstetric complications that threaten the life of the mother. No exceptions for rape or incest. No accounting for the far-reaching implications of this dogma. What about in-vitro fertilization, which by necessity produces excess fertilized eggs? Funerals for spontaneously aborted embryos, fetuses and stillbirths? Death (and birth) certificates? Are grave liners required? Who pays for burial expenses? For coroner’s reports and expenses? What about legal implications? If a drunk driver causes the death of a 4-week embryo (about the size of a poppy seed), is this vehicular manslaughter? If convicted, are legislators prepared to authorize funding for the year of jail time and for the state’s extra legal expenses? Which legislator who “values them both” will author a bill guaranteeing full societal payment for services and support for children who are unwanted or unaffordable—or who were born with grave disabilities or anomalies that will cost millions of dollars (that is not an exaggeration) over the child’s lifetime, and will forever inhibit the family’s ability to afford or care for other children? Which legislator will author a bill to provide full financial and social support for adoptive and foster families? Financial decisions are moral decisions.
Carl Turner (incumbent Republican)
A majority of voters statewide (59%) confirmed that they want abortion to be a constitutionally protected right. Based on the vote and discussions I’ve had throughout the district, Kansans support the limits currently in place where early term abortions are accessible and the procedure rooms they are performed in are clean and safe.
Kansas House District 29
Heather Meyer (incumbent Democrat)
Kansas already has strong and comprehensive laws regarding abortion, and I do not believe that additional restrictions are necessary.
Laws regarding abortion in the State of Kansas are reasonable, based on well established medical science, emphasize the safety and privacy of the patient, and respect the personal perspectives of all Kansans. Furthermore, medical decisions–including those related to reproductive health–should remain between a patient, their family, and their healthcare provider, not to the will of the ever-changing legislature.
It’s vital that we continue to value and respect the rights and freedoms of Kansans to make their own healthcare decisions, including the right to abortion, and I will always work to protect a persons right to safely choose the reproductive healthcare that fits their needs.
David Soffer (Republican)
I have never supported a ban on abortion. Along with that, the people have spoken on August 2nd. Seventy two percent of the 29th District voted no. It’s important that we respect the will of the people. I think we have great laws that are currently on the books that limit abortions to cases of need and we should be focusing on making sure we preserve the laws that are currently on the books.
Kansas House district 48
Terry Frederick (Republican)
For me, being pro-life means that I will continue to support the commonsense restrictions currently in state law like limits on late term abortions, taxpayer funding of abortions, parental consent for minors and safety regulations on abortion clinics – all of which find overwhelming support among most Kansans. I also strongly support helping women in need of support through emergency pregnancy clinics to ensure that women have the resources they need to make the best decision.
Kansans have made it clear they support exceptions for mothers in difficult situations due to pregnancies caused by rape and incest or the need to save the life of the mother. Those exceptions have been and should continue to be part of Kansas law. I would never support any policy that might endanger or limit the ability of women to get emergency healthcare they needed for ectopic pregnancies, miscarriages and other complications.
Dan Osman (incumbent Democrat)
My district voted NO in overwhelming numbers. Over 67% of you said NO to government overreach. You said NO to the Kansas Legislature eliminating your constitutional protections. You said NO to a denial of your right to make medical decisions for your own body. You said NO to the potential ban on all abortions in Kansas including instances of rape, incest, and where the life of the mother is at stake.
I do believe that most everyone in the community wishes for a reduction in the number of abortions performed. So how best do we achieve that? Not through harsh legislation that removes your rights.
If we are serious about this issue we need increased access to prenatal care. We need maternity and paternity leave. We need expansion of Medicaid. We need expanded childcare options. The most effective method for the reduction of abortions happens when couples know they can bring their children into a safe and secure environment.
So the fight is not over. As long as a legislature exists that doesn’t represent the will of the population on this matter, these types of amendments will continue to appear, year after year, until they are finally successful. It’s why this November’s vote is so crucial.
Kansas House District 8
Pam Shernuk (Democrat)
I am comfortable with the current laws regarding abortion rights in Kansas. Kansans spoke loud and clear in August and I agree 100%. I support a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions. Sixty-seven percent of voters in House District 8 voted against the amendment, yet my opponent proudly displayed the Value Them Both image on his Facebook page and voted to put the amendment on the ballot with no exception for the life of the mother, rape or incest.
Chris Croft (incumbent Republican)
Did not respond.
Kansas House District 16
Ed Roitz (Republican)
Personally, I am pro-life. On August 2nd, the voters spoke, and the amendment question is settled. If elected, I will be sworn into office to uphold the constitution and laws of the State of Kansas. The current abortion laws include abortion permitted in cases of rape and incest, and in any case where the doctors and medical personnel take into account to save the mother’s life. I will oppose any bill to ban abortion.
Linda Featherston (incumbent Democrat)
I am comfortable with Kansas’ current laws. The voters of House District 16 voted no by a margin of 66% to 34%. I respect their vote. I trust women to make their own medical decisions in consultation with their families, physicians, and religious entities to which they may or may not belong. I certainly do not trust paid extremist lobbyists and the legislators they control to make these decisions for myself, my daughters, or my constituents.
Kansas law currently prohibits abortions after 21 weeks, except in the case of a mother’s life or severely compromised physical health. There was an amendment offered to the Value Them Both amendment that would have maintained this exception, plus exceptions for rape and incest. It was voted down on both the House and Senate floors 100% along party lines. If legislators/the special interests that control them intended to keep these exceptions in future legislation, why wouldn’t they allow them to be codified in the bill? Clearly, they do not agree that the life of a mother has value. Another amendment would have moved the vote on Value Them Both one year earlier. That was also voted down 100% along party lines. If the amendment was about saving lives, why wouldn’t its supporters want it enacted as soon as possible? (All of this can be found at www.kslegislature.org by looking up HCR 5003.)
Special interests have made it clear that their goal is a complete ban on abortion in Kansas with absolutely no exceptions. History shows that moderate Republican legislators that dare to go against this will be run out of their seat by extremists in their own party. Candidates can scrub Kansans for Life’s endorsement from their public media, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are endorsed by extremists and will be forced to vote in favor of a complete ban or be forced out of office.
I hear repeatedly at doors that my constituents are very concerned about complications during pregnancy that could threaten their/their wives’/their daughters’ lives. They certainly do not want to see anyone who has been raped forced to carry a pregnancy. Fundamentally, they do not want the government making difficult healthcare decisions for them, and as a legislator, I do not wish to meddle in these private decisions.
Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item #4:
This spring, Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill that will allow students to attend any public school in the state provided it has space for them starting in June 2024. The “open enrollment” bill has attracted a lot of attention here in Johnson County. Are you comfortable with the open enrollment policy taking effect in 2024? Why or why not?