Vote No on Value Them Both

“Value Them Both” is a lie.

This amendment would give total control over abortion laws to the Kansas state legislature. It is not about saving lives, and it’s certainly not about valuing either women or babies. It does not value the lives of either the women who will be at the center of this debate, or the children who will result from it.

It’s clear that the driving force behind this amendment is the religious right. I see signs in church yards. I see signs in the yards of people I know are active in their churches. This is part of the First Amendment – the right to free speech.

The First Amendment also guarantees us freedom of religion. But freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. The Founding Fathers were clear:  they did not want religion to be part of government. If they had, they would have established a state church. But they didn’t. And they made freedom of – and from – religion part of the First Amendment for a reason:  to them, the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, and the freedom to choose and practice a religion were the most important rights that Americans could grant themselves.

The Amendments were submitted by the states, before the Constitution could be ratified. Every single state submitted something that echoed the First Amendment. No one wanted government to corrupt faith – or vice versa.

Yet here we are, 225 years later, and we have a religious minority that wants to dictate to the rest of us how we should act, feel, and behave. What women can and cannot do with their own bodies. This is the very reason why the First Amendment exists – to protect us from religion. Anyone is free to believe as they want. You can believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But you can’t force anyone else to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can’t force anyone to worship and believe as you do.

But the religious right is trying to do exactly that – force their beliefs upon everyone in the state.

These people will tell you they are trying to “save the unborn” – conveniently forgetting that abortion bans condemn women. Condemn women who medically need an abortion, but may not be able to get one due to all the red tape and double-speak they must jump through to get one. Abortion bans condemn women to live with abusers, to live in poverty, to forego education. To have children they don’t want, or cannot afford.

To quote Benjamin Franklin:  “We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” It is time for all of us who value the lives of women to stand up – no matter our religion, our political views, our race or ethnicity. If we want to remain in a free and democratic nation, this is where we make our first stand – by Voting No on this “Value Them Both” amendment.

“Value Them Both” is a Lie. Here’s why.

“Value Them Both” is a lie.

The “Value Them Both” amendment, to be decided on August 2, removes abortion from the protection of the Kansas state constitution, giving the Kansas state legislature total control over passing laws restricting – or outright banning – abortions. It’s not about valuing women or babies – it’s only about controlling women and taking away their rights and choices.

“Value Them Both” is a lie because it does not value the lives of either the women who will be at the center of this debate, or the children who will result from it.

If this amendment truly valued women and children, it would mandate that the legislature fully fund our schools, and foster care; require them to pass laws ensuring abuse prevention and intervention; and invest in Head Start-type programs, and more food and rental assistance. But it doesn’t, because that’s not what this amendment is about. It’s about forcing women to give birth, and forcing those children and women to live precarious lives.

Women make up nearly half of the workforce – half of the economy – in the United States. But they aren’t equal, as you can see from these statistics:   

  • Between 60% – 75% of single-parent households are headed by a woman.
  • Of those, about 37% live in poverty (defined as $27,750 per year for a family of 4), as opposed to about 5% of two-parent households.
  • On the average, women still earn about 79 cents for every dollar a man makes.
  • And more than 60% of single-mother households are on food assistance.

In short:  single mothers are much more likely to live in poverty than single fathers or two-parent households. They generally cannot afford college. They may have to choose between working and paying for child care, or not working because they can’t afford child care. Those not employed, or employed in low-paying jobs, pay less in taxes and contribute less to the economy – and are more likely to need public assistance. They have to choose every day, every week, what bills to pay, what groceries they can afford, whether to put gas in their car or buy medicine for their child.

Poverty is a cycle. Once in it, it’s nearly impossible in our society to break out of it. Poverty rates among single mothers are even higher for women of color. And poverty often goes hand in hand with domestic violence – for both women and children.

Women need the ability to break the poverty cycle. They need the ability to escape abusive marriages or relationships. And sometimes, sadly, that way may require an abortion. It’s not for us to judge. We have no right to allow our state legislature to pass laws that will strip women of that safety.

If the “Value Them Both” amendment really did value women and children, it would force legislators to address these issues as well. To provide funding for intervention, expanded food programs. But it doesn’t, because again – “Value Them Both” is a lie.