August 3, 2022
The Central Conference of American Rabbis celebrates the defeat Tuesday of a proposed constitutional amendment in Kansas which would have declared that the state’s constitution does not include a right to abortion. The CCAR congratulates and commends its members in Kansas and the communities they serve, who were at the forefront of Kansans for Constitutional Freedom, the organized opposition to the anti-choice amendment. This result reinforces the separation of church and state—a prized ideal of our unique American democracy—and the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free exercise of religion for Jews and others whose religious traditions permit abortion.
The Kansas election results send a clear message: Americans support access to safe, legal healthcare, including abortion care. In states where ballot initiatives can be put forward by voters, safe and legal abortion care may be restored in some states where it has been outlawed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s deplorable decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
The Kansas vote—combined with a commendable 2019 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court holding that the state constitution’s Bill of Rights protects the right to abortion—assures that millions of Kansans will continue to have access to safe and legal abortion. Tuesday’s result also assures that Kansas facilities will continue to be the closest place where millions of citizens in Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas can obtain a safe and legal abortion. Long and arduous journeys are still required from many locales: Houston, for example—our nation’s fourth largest city—is over six hundred miles from Wichita, Kansas, the closest place where a Houstonian may secure a safe and legal abortion.
Nobody should have to travel outside their own community—and certainly not across state lines—to secure reproductive healthcare, including a safe and legal abortion. Reform rabbis are grateful, though, for President Biden’s Wednesday executive order, which eases the way for pregnant people to cross state lines for abortion care and grants access to Medicaid waivers for states where abortion is legal to help them care for pregnant people from out of state seeking abortions.
The CCAR looks forward to victories in other states following Kansas’s lead to protect access to safe and legal abortion.
Rabbi Lewis Kamrass, President
Rabbi Hara E. Person, Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis