Yo, Pro-Lifers! Kansas Set-Back Only Means: Don’t Quit, Keep Pressing On

Written by Steve Pauwels on August 12, 2022

No lying, it was a gut-punch when news broke last week that Republican-heavy Kansas, in the first major political test following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, had given thumbs down to a pro-life referendum.

The ACLJ’s Jordan Sekulow summarizes bluntly:

Planned Parenthood’s lies, deceit, and millions of dollars overwhelmed and defeated a pro-life constitutional amendment. … [S]ome state constitutions need to change in order to overcome pro-abortion activist judges. One such state constitution is in Kansas, where an important pro-life constitutional amendment was defeated on Tuesday, making it virtually impossible for Kansas state representatives to pass stricter pro-life laws.”

National Review‘s Kevin Williamson writes:

Kansas’s supreme court, like the federal one, read a right to abortion into a constitution that didn’t really say anything about the question, in an act of illegitimate judicial lawmaking. But an effort by Kansas voters to correct that via the ballot box has failed, at least for now. The vote wasn’t even particularly close, something that may surprise you if you don’t know much about the politics of Kansas, which is traditionally a very Republican state but not an especially conservative one

Nate Jackson over at Patriot Post contributes his analysis:

The right to an abortion is not actually present anywhere in the Kansas constitution, as is routinely reported. In 2019, the state Supreme Court, like the national version did in 1973, illegitimately ruled legislated that the state’s 1859 constitution mysteriously contained a “fundamental” right to abortion — a right never enumerated for a procedure that was illegal in Kansas at the time of the constitution’s drafting. Kansas pro-lifers proposed to amend the constitution to specifically declare that it “does not create or secure a right to abortion.” That amendment was necessary if the Kansas legislature was going to be able to do its job regulating the practice of abortion.

Once more, that “necessary” amendment was shot down on Tuesday. Decisively. By a middle American state.


When I recovered from the psychological and emotional deflation, however, it reflexively occurred to me this setback might be just what the pro-life movement needs at the moment. This tactical loss, while not a “good” thing to be sure, could turn out helpful to the forces of civilized decency in the long run. It was never the case, after all, that the vacating of 1973’s revolting and addle-pated Roe v. Wade decision was anything more than an important, albeit intermediate, step in the ongoing battle to save babies’ lives. The same hard-nosed evaluation could be offered for this now-stymied Kansas referendum. The best case scenario for that U.S. high court finding is it sets the table for indispensable further action — if open season on unborn human beings is ultimately to be foreclosed, that is. The Kansas ruling would have done so for the Jayhawk State — but nothing more — had it won sufficient votes; which it did not.

The vote, stressed Nate Jackson, “ended up yielding a status quo result and a lesson going forward.” (emphasis mine).

As Williamson’s headline unromantically phrases it: “For Pro-Lifers, the Fight Is Only Just Beginning.”


He elaborates: “The Kansas abortion vote shows that the road ahead is long and perilous. We must resist the temptation to take shortcuts.”

Conservatives — scandalously including not a few followers of Jesus — have this vexing habit of achieving a stroke of glorious victory … then going on a feel-good nap, just long enough to allow their fiercely fought gains to sift through their fingers. It’s candidly mystifying from a bunch that reputedly prizes the long-term perspective.  Too frequently, God-and-Country-Loving types end up being those who specialize in what are effectively pyrrhic victories, winning a very public battle, then managing follow-ups that lead to more enduring, bigger-picture defeats. For their part, rabid, take-no-prisoner, never-say-die secularists and Leftists slog ahead, shrugging off every rebuff and ultimately gaining ground even after they’ve briefly surrendered ground.

Tuesday’s reversal? If nothing else, it ought to become a reminder to the anti-abortion camp — perhaps a fresh wake-up call? — that there’s plenty more work to be done on behalf of the pre-born. Plenty more — likely for many days to come.

The Catholic University of America’s Dr. Michael New remarks:

I think we just need to be persistent. We were not promised an easy glide path to victory after Dobbs – we are going to have to take this to the states. We’re going to run into resistance even in conservative states. But it’s important to remember we’ve done quite a lot of good since Dobbs. These are great victories for the pro-life movement.

(Note: mere days following the Kansas debacle, Governor of Indiana Eric Holcomb signed into law a “near total ban” on abortion. Whaddya know! That Hoosier occurrence didn’t stir quite the widespread media jubilation that was prompted by Kansas’ latest turn of events.)

“We are not always going to win every battle,” continues New. “We just need to be persistent and always confident that, in the end, victory will be ours.”

Victory indeed … achieved via pro-life activism, pro-lifers’ confident and winsome persuading of those who resist the cause, political campaigns, voting, lobbying, additional judicial victories … and YES! Ceaseless prayer and fasting, crying out to the God of Life that He will change the hearts of those who’ve heretofore given themselves over to the entrenchment of death. It can happen! (see: Bernard NathansonAbby JohnsonDr. Patti Giebink, et al.) That last bit is, it needs to be underscored, the sine qua non of the whole baby-rescuing project: Minus the Divine Life-Giver’s blessing and energizing of any pro-life efforts, the entire endeavor is futile.

So… pro-lifers! Dig in for the long haul. Get back to work. You’ve done so for half a century and it has incrementally, but rather persistently, paid off. There’s no reason to conclude this next round of child-saving labors won’t, eventually, yield more of the same. Predictably, it’ll be a protracted, arduous challenge; but there’s nothing new there.

Steve Pauwels is pastor of Church of the King, Londonderry, NH and host of Striker Radio with Steve Pauwels on the Red State Talk Radio Network. He's also husband to the lovely Maureen and proud father of three fine sons: Mike, Sam and Jake.