TOPEKA, Kan. — The new governor of the state of Kansas delivered his first address to a joint session of the legislature on Wednesday, a speech that included a declaration that everyone has a God-given right to life.
Jeff Colyer, who previously served as lieutenant governor, was sworn in as governor on Jan. 31 after Gov. Sam Brownback accepted a position to serve as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Both Colyer and Brownback identify as Roman Catholic and both have spoken about their pro-life views publicly.
“Kansas was founded on the ideal that all people have value,” Colyer, a surgeon in Johnson County, told those gathered for the address this week. “Everyone has a God-given right to life and liberty.”
“And as a doctor, I’ve seen newborn babies who no one gave a chance thrive. I’ve seen mothers frightened by a scary ultrasound only to rejoice at their child’s wedding 20 years later,” he noted.
Colyer outlined that Kansas has historically opposed abortion.
“When Kansas first entered the Union, two of our first laws emphasized basic human dignity. As a free state, Kansas prohibited slavery, and the same founders whose names appear on these walls, they passed laws prohibiting abortion,” he explained. “That same constitution that prohibited slavery did not mention a right to an abortion.”
Colyer consequently lamented a 2016 ruling in which the Kansas Court of Appeals—in a tie vote—stuck down the state’s ban on dismemberment abortions, with half finding a right to an abortion in the Kansas Constitution and the other half opining that there is no such right in the state’s founding documents.
As previously reported, SB 95, passed in 2015, banned the common second trimester practice of “dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors or similar instruments that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slice, crush or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body in order to cut or rip it off.”
However, the bill specifically noted that it did not ban “an abortion which uses suction to dismember the body of the unborn child by sucking fetal parts into a collection container,” also known as vacuum aspiration abortions, which are common throughout the first trimester.
Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks placed an injunction on the dismemberment ban in June 2015, opining that a mother’s “fundamental right to terminate a pregnancy [would] be unduly burdened” if the law was allowed to stand. The ruling was appealed, and because the appeals court ruling was a tie, Hendricks’ ruling was left undisturbed.
“[A] Kansas court issued a ruling which argues that the framers of the Kansas Constitution imagined abortion as a separate constitutional state right. This is violence against the very basic facts, and this cannot stand,” Colyer declared on Wednesday, drawing a standing ovation from some in attendance.
The Lawrence Journal-World reports that the Republicans present stood to their feet in support, while Democrats sat still.
“We are a pro-life state, and on the issue of life, the stakes are so high. The issue is so foundational. The people of Kansas must have the final say,” he said.
View the speech in full here. Colyer’s remarks on abortion begin at approximately 19:30 into the recording.
The Kansas Supreme Court is currently considering an appeal of the cited ruling, and lawmakers are also pondering the possibility of introducing a constitutional amendment should the high court find that state founders established a right to an abortion.
“A constitutional amendment … would just take this question out of the hands of unelected judges in the future,” Rep. Chuck Weber, R-Wichita, told local radio station KCUR. “It would really reflect the will of the people.”
As previously reported, the state’s ban on dilation and evacuation abortions had been challenged by abortionist Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Traci Nauser, who argued that it placed a burden on their “right” to perform second trimester abortions. In court, the state presented other options for ending the lives of the unborn.
“The state has offered three alternatives to the standard D & E procedure: labor-induced abortion, inducing fetal demise with digoxin injections, and inducing fetal demise by cutting the umbilical cord (also known as transection),” the appeals court outlined in April 2016.
However, some believe that abortion, like slavery, should be abolished altogether—just as Christians have declared in America for more than 200 years.
Philadelphia legal writer, educator and Christian apologist Francis Wharton penned an entire chapter on abortion in his 1855 book “American Criminal Law.”
Wharton called abortionists “persons who are ready to degrade their humanity to this occupation” and stated in regard to abortion in general, “Such conduct cannot be too strongly condemned, and is the more deserving of receiving the punishment awarded for the criminal offense in question.”
In an introductory lecture to his course on obstetrics in 1854, Dr. Hugh Lennox Hodge likewise explained that if a woman were to come to a medical doctor in pursuit of an abortion, “he must, as it were, grasp the conscience of his weak and erring patient and let her know in language not to be misunderstood that she is responsible to her Creator for the life of the being within her.”
“The procuring abortion is ‘a base and unmanly act,’” Hodge also said, quoting in part text from a court ruling of his day. “It is a crime against the natural feelings of man, against the welfare and safety of females, against the peace and prosperity of society, against the divine command ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ It is murder.”