Leawood mayor urges ‘yes’ vote on ‘Value Them Both’ abortion amendment in new ad

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Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn appears in a new ad urging a “yes” vote on the “Value Them Both” constitutional amendment on abortion.

  • Dunn says she appeared in the ad as a private citizen, and she is not identified as Leawood’s mayor in the spot.

Why it matters: The amendment aims to nullify a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that found a right to abortion in the Kansas constitution and what voters decide could have a major impact on abortion access in Kansas in the future.

  • If approved, the amendment could pave the way for new regulations or even outright bans on abortion when the Kansas Legislature returns to Topeka in January.
  • If rejected, it would further enshrine a right to abortion access in Kansas and make it harder to pass new anti-abortion regulations.
  • The “Value Them Both” question will appear on the August 2 primary ballot across Kansas, and all voters — regardless of partisan affiliation — will be able to cast ballots on the issue.

Key quote: “I was requested to participate in the ‘Value Them Both’ ad as a Kansas resident and not as an elected official,” Dunn told the Post in a statement via email. “I agreed to do so since there was so much misinformation being distributed stating that this amendment would ban abortion, which it does not. I intended to portray the facts as I understand them; but I did not do so representing myself as Leawood mayor, but rather as a citizen.”

Details: In the ad, Dunn looks into the camera and says, “I’ve read the ‘Value Them Both’ amendment, and it doesn’t ban abortion or remove exceptions. That’s just a scare tactic. Here’s what it does do: it lets us keep commonsense limits on abortion that we all agree on.”

  • The amendment language itself would not ban abortions, but if approved, abortion rights supporters fear it could open the way for Republican supermajorities in the Kansas Legislature to pass similarly strict restrictions or bans that have already gone into effect in neighboring states, including Missouri and Oklahoma, since the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision last month.
  • Underlining those concerns, the Kansas Reflector reported on Friday that a regional director of the Value Them Both Coalition told a meeting of Reno County Republicans last month that the organization had legislation ready to ban abortion in Kansas if voters adopted the constitutional amendment, and a Republican lawmaker said he wanted to pass legislation defining life as starting at conception.

Broader context: Dunn is believed to be the only Johnson County mayor to appear, even in a private capacity, in a political ad for either side of the “Value Them Both” debate, but she’s not the only local municipal leader to take a stance on the issue.

  • Roeland Park Mayor Mike Kelly in his campaign for Johnson County Commission chair has urged a “no” vote on “Value Them Both,” saying he “believes in a woman’s right to make her own personal health care decisions.”

About the author

Nikki Lansford
Nikki Lansford

Hi! I’m Nikki, and I cover the city of Overland Park.

I grew up in southern Overland Park and graduated from Olathe East before going on to earn a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. At Mizzou, I worked as a reporter and editor at the Columbia Missourian. Prior to joining the Post, I had also done work for the Northeast News, PolitiFact Missouri and Kaiser Health News.

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