The confusion over ‘choice’ in Kansas

Republicans in Kansas argue the government shouldn't regulate vaccines or masks, but should regulate womens' bodies in the case of abortion. Examples like this show that what 'choice' means depends on the political power defining it.



August 13, 2021 - 12:57 PM

A healthcare professional holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. (Jacob King/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

That the beliefs which political parties express — like the Republican party and “conservatism” or the Democratic party and “liberalism” — are best understood as packages of ideas, which can be re-packaged and re-arranged as political elites find it useful to do so, is hardly a new idea. Still, the use of “choice” in Kansas politics is a good reminder of this fact.

A year from now the “Value Them Both” amendment will be on the ballot. If it passes, it would invalidate the Kansas Supreme Court ruling that our state constitution includes a guaranteed right to access abortion services. 

It is, therefore, a “pro-life” amendment, which generally aims to protect fetal life rather than protect the right of women to make certain medical choices. Those committed to passing this amendment likely don’t care what language is used — but when it comes to winning a statewide election, language matters, and that is where some Kansas voters may find the messages they hear confusing.

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