This past April, six justices of the Kansas Supreme Court issued an opinion that determined the top priority for the 2020 legislative session.

Six justices found a right to an abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution despite there being no language of the sort and nothing in the historical record indicating this to be the case.

In addition, the court found that there is very little that can be done to regulate this newly created “right.” By doing so, the court opened the door to unrestricted late-term abortion up to the point of birth. There is no higher priority for the Legislature than addressing this injustice.

The sickening part of this ruling is that the majority of the court did not look at the rights of the child. They purposefully avoided discussing the loss of life that occurs when an abortion takes place, they openly chose not to engage in an in-depth discussion of the pain that is felt by an unborn child during an abortion, or to delve into the medical advances that can show us when an unborn child has a heartbeat and is capable of feeling pain.

The court's majority went out of its way to keep the discussion as clinical as possible in an effort to dehumanize the hundreds of thousands of children who are killed each year.

The echoes of dehumanization still call to us from Auschwitz and Dachau, the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge and the streets of Rwanda. In our nation, the infamous Dred Scott case comes to mind. It was in that 1857 United States Supreme Court case that the majority of the court held that a former slave could never be a U.S. citizen and that slaves were property.

The entire opinion is a lesson in dehumanization. When you frame a dispute in a way in which you present only one side as human and the other side as something less than human, it provides cover to inflict unspeakable horrors.

Abortion is a heated issue that inflames passion from all involved. Navigating this issue requires that all sides be on equal footing, and this does not occur when those children whose lives are literally at stake are declared to be something less than human. Dehumanization has destroyed nations, killed millions, and during the Civil War literally split our country in half. We cannot be a state where six justices decide that some are more human than others.

Addressing this injustice will be the top priority of the 2020 Legislature. There will be a constitutional amendment returning the power to regulate abortion to the elected representatives of the people. The selection process for Supreme Court justices will also be considered.

Above all, we each have the responsibility to respect the human dignity of every living person. Regardless of political view, race, gender, sexuality, age, or whether born or unborn, we are living human beings deserving of respect. When we look at each other as something else, something less than human, we lose a piece of our own humanity in the process.

 

Rep. Dan Hawkins, R-Wichita, is the Kansas House majority leader.