Several Lawrence community members have recently shared their stories with us about their personal reproductive health care decisions.
For this collection of stories, we posted an online form seeking abortion stories from anyone who was willing to share their experience. Understanding that this can be a difficult life experience to share publicly, we offered anonymity, and two of our six sources took that option.
We interviewed all of the women who filled out the form, and we have shared their stories over the past week. The scope of the stories also broadened to include reproductive health decisions in general rather than solely abortion, as one of these mothers chose to give birth after both of her pregnancies.
All but one of these women have one or more children, and all but one have had an abortion. They all have their own reasons, and none made their health care decisions lightly.
They shared their stories, as well as their perspectives on the constitutional amendment that will be on Kansans’ ballots on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Proponents call it the “Value them Both” amendment. These women would dispute that characterization. And much misinformation has swirled around the amendment over the past few months.
Abortion is already highly regulated in Kansas, but the amendment on Tuesday’s ballots would give politicians the power to ban abortion in the state. One bill is already written that would criminalize all abortions, regardless of whether the patient was a victim of rape or incest, or if the pregnancy could kill them.
The only exceptions in that bill are for miscarriages, stillbirths and ectopic pregnancies. Any other abortions — including those for pregnancies that could kill the patient, and for patients who were victimized — would be punished at a felony level the same as murder. The bill, proposed during the most recent legislative session, died in committee because it was unconstitutional; however, if the amendment passes (a “yes” vote), proponents have recently reminded the public that the bill is written and ready to go.
A few more key points:
• Abortion is already illegal after 22 weeks gestation (during the second trimester of a pregnancy) except in cases of life or death. Kansas is not a destination for late-term abortions, nor would abortion become legal up until birth if the amendment fails.
• State funding (taxpayer money) can only be used for abortions in cases in which the patient will die otherwise — even though the language on the ballot implies otherwise.
• Abortion based on the sex of the fetus is illegal.
• Many religions and religious people in Kansas do not share the belief that life begins at conception.
Read more about the statistics on who’s getting abortions in Kansas, and about the many restrictions that are already in place, at this link.
In this video, Bulaong Ramiz, Sarah Smith, Joe Cheray, “Autumn,” “Lynette,” and Kayla Deere share their thoughts on bodily autonomy, how and why they’re voting, and how and why they’re encouraging other people to vote on the amendment.
Read their stories at the links below, plus find the info you need to cast your ballot on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Read their stories:
‘Incompatible with life’ diagnosis, Kansas abortion laws led Lawrence mom to seek health care outside state
Access to emergency treatment saved Lawrence mom’s life and enabled her to have three more children
Lawrence women reflect on their reasons for ending their pregnancies
Topeka woman reflects on traumatic experiences and choosing her own path through her reproductive journey
Lawrence mother reflects on joy in choice to end a pregnancy to center her daughter and herself
Cast your ballot
All registered voters, including those who are registered as unaffiliated or Libertarian, may vote in this special primary.
Monday, Aug. 1 will be the last opportunity to vote early before Election Day, which is Tuesday, Aug. 2.
The Douglas County Elections office at 711 W. 23rd St. Suite 1 (23rd and Louisiana streets) will be open to voters from 8 a.m. to noon on Monday.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Voters should report to their assigned polling places on Election Day. As long as you are in line to vote by 7 p.m., you will be given the opportunity to vote.
You will need to bring a state-issued ID (such as a driver’s license) to vote in person.
All registered Kansas voters can check which districts they’re in, see sample ballots and find their assigned polling places by inputting their name and date of birth at this link on the Secretary of State’s website.
If you received an advance ballot to vote by mail, your ballot must be postmarked by Election Day to be counted if you’re mailing it back. In Douglas County, no stamp is required to mail your ballot back.
Ballots can also be dropped in dropboxes that are located outside the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.; at the county elections office at 23rd and Louisiana; at Eudora, Lecompton and Baldwin city halls; at the Golf Course Superintendents Building or at Flory Meeting Hall.
On Election Day (Tuesday), ballots may be dropped at any Douglas County polling place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.
See what else is on the ballot at this link.
More Douglas County voting information — including ways to look up your polling place or help someone else find theirs — is available at this link.
More key issue coverage:
Who’s getting abortions in Kansas? Plus more FAQs ahead of the Aug. 2 vote
Anti-abortion groups make dubious claims as Kansas amendment vote nears
Kansas abortion ban is the plan, officials pushing constitutional amendment tell GOP crowd
Yes, you can still get an abortion right now in Kansas
Organizers launch ‘Vote Neigh’ to boost the reproductive justice movement ahead of the Aug. 2 election
Kansas abortion amendment: How all registered voters can cast a ballot in August’s primary election
Kansas’ anti-abortion amendment wording is purposely confusing, panelists say
The “Value Them Both” amendment would pave the way to a complete ban of abortion in Kansas despite language implying otherwise, panelists said Saturday. If the majority votes “yes” in August, legislators could ban abortions even in cases of rape, incest, and risk of death.
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Cast your ballot in the Aug. 2 election
All registered Kansas voters may vote in the Aug. 2 primary. That includes unaffiliated and Libertarian voters. To see what’s on the ballot, visit this link. For information about voting in person, visit this link. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 2.
* We are not election workers *