The conservatives who dominate the Kansas Legislature voted Wednesday to tell New York’s leaders just how much they hate the Empire State’s new law expanding abortion rights, ignoring Democrats who called the endeavor a toothless waste of time and money.
The Kansas House voted 85-38 on Wednesday to approve the resolution, which declares that the New York law offends Kansas’ and the nation’s values and incites “abuse and violence toward women and their unborn children.” The state Senate approved the measure on a 27-13 vote on Valentine’s Day.
The votes reflect long-standing Republican and anti-abortion majorities that have given Kansas some of the nation’s toughest abortion restrictions.
“We need to stand as a group and stand up for the unborn babies in every state and nation,” state Rep. Barbara Wasinger, a western Kansas Republican, said after likening abortion to the Holocaust.
Some Kansas Democrats said their colleagues should focus on their own state’s business. State Rep. Brett Parker, a Kansas City-area Democrat, rejected his legislative salary of $88.66 for Tuesday, when the House debated the resolution at length, tweeting a photo of a check to the state with “Wasted Day” in the memo line.
States, including Kansas, regularly send resolutions to Congress decrying federal policies or urging action, only to see them largely ignored. But criticism of other states is less common.
Criticism of other states’ laws sometimes spills over into formal action. A handful of liberal states have restricted travel by government employees to states with laws viewed as discriminatory against LGBTQ individuals. Kansas is on a list of nine states targeted by California.
Kansas’ resolution does not threaten any action against New York. It is also non-binding and would go to New Yorkers without going to Kansas’ Democratic governor, Laura Kelly, who supports abortion rights and was born in New York City.
The New York law permits women to end their pregnancies after 24 weeks for health reasons, when the state’s previous law said a woman’s life had to be at risk. Abortion rights opponents say the new law would allow abortions up to the moment of birth.
Brittany Jones, advocacy director for the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas, called the New York law “horrific,” adding, “Kansas is proud to be a state that cherishes life.”
The New York law was designed to codify protections for abortion rights granted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and other court rulings. Abortion-rights backers fear a more conservative high court might strike down Roe.
Even if the Kansas resolution has no teeth, supporters of New York’s law are concerned about what they believe is a misinformation campaign targeting it.
“Opponents of reproductive freedom have been very creative in spreading misinformation and falsehoods,” said New York state Sen. Liz Krueger, the Manhattan Democrat who sponsored the measure. “But it’s no secret what their true intention is — to ban abortion completely and control women’s bodies.”
During the Kansas House debate Tuesday, Rep. Elizabeth Bishop, a Wichita Democrat, disclosed that she had a second-trimester abortion between the births of two healthy sons. She said severe cramping and heavy bleeding sent her to the hospital and a doctor told her she would bleed to death otherwise.
“Wasting time condemning another state was an absurd way to spend taxpayer dollars,” Bishop said Wednesday after the vote.
Democrats who opposed the resolution also showed their displeasure by proposing unsuccessful amendments Tuesday to rewrite it.
One amendment condemned “any politician who has had an affair with an adult film star and then paid money to keep the affair a secret,” a reference to allegations against President Donald Trump. Another condemned “any politician who searches outside the borders of this state to find problems.”