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Pro-life teen assaulted ahead of Kansas abortion referendum; woman arrested, charged

Kansas
Supporters remove signs along 135th Street on August 01, 2022, in Olathe, Kansas. On August 2, voters will vote on whether or not to remove protection for abortion from the state constitution. |

UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. ET Aug. 2: The Leawood Police Department told The Christian Post on Tuesday that a 37-year-old woman was arrested and charged in connection with an alleged attack on a pro-life canvasser Sunday. 

"The Leawood Police Department was contacted on Sunday by a subject. ... She stated that she had been going door-to-door regarding the upcoming election," the police statement reads.

"As she was walking away from an address in Leawood, she was struck by a female resident. The victim was not injured. As part of our investigation on Sunday, the 37-year-old suspect was arrested, charged in Leawood Municipal Court with misdemeanor battery and released."

Original: 

Grace Hartsock
Grace Hartsock |

A pro-life student claims she was attacked while canvassing on behalf of the "Value Them Both" amendment that will go before Kansas voters Tuesday.

The pro-life group Students for Life of America announced Monday that 18-year-old Grace Hartsock was assaulted in Leawood, Kansas, Sunday as she participated in the organization's door-knocking campaign. 

The campaign seeks to convince Kansas voters to support the Value Them Both Amendment to amend the Kansas Constitution so it "does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion." 

Supporters of the amendment aim to reverse the Kansas Supreme Court's creation of "a nearly unlimited 'right' to abortion" in the state constitution.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Dana Stancavage, the press specialist and online editor for Students for Life of America, elaborated on the incident that occurred Sunday.

Stancavage is one of several Students for Life activists on the ground in Kansas ahead of Tuesday's vote, along with Hartsock, a Texas native who is a rising freshman at Benedictine College. 

Stancavage told CP that Hartsock and other pro-life activists left to canvass around 11 a.m., noting that Hartsock "was with a team, but they had each broken up to different streets."

While Hartsock was by herself at the time of the incident, the other pro-life activists were "very close by," Stancavage stated. 

About two hours into the door-knocking, Hartsock encountered a woman who shoved her "with both hands in the chest," Stancavage said. "Grace didn't fall, but the woman with closed fists began hitting her in the head, and Grace was trying to just block herself and move out of the driveway and flee from that woman."

The woman also allegedly told Hartsock, "I hope you get raped" and "I hope you get hit by a car." 

"She did also throw a piece of bread [that] hit Grace in the face," Stancavage added.

In a blog post, Students for Life of America said that Hartsock encountered the woman's mother after knocking on the door of the house. After the mother apologized and indicated that she didn't want to talk to Hartsock because she was not likely to support the amendment, Hartsock began to depart the property.

As she was leaving, Hartsock reportedly heard the woman's daughter dropping expletives and reportedly uttering the words "Don't apologize to her, mom." Shortly after that, Students for Life claims she chased Hartsock and assaulted her.

The pro-life teenager tried to record video footage of the encounter when the woman started retreating. Video footage released by Students for Life of America shows the woman flipping Hartsock off and appearing to direct an "F— you" at the teenager before her mother meets her on the driveway and tells her to "stop it." 

Stancavage recalled that after taking the five-second video, Hartsock "called the other people that were door-knocking with her, and they came and picked her up immediately."

The leadership team at Students for Life of America instructed Hartsock, who was "pretty shaken up for a few," to call the police and go to the emergency room. The organization "really put a priority to make sure nothing was wrong with her," Stancavage detailed. 

Hartsock allegedly experienced a "major headache," but a visit to the emergency room revealed that she was "all clear" with "no concussion or anything of that nature." Hartsock "doesn't have any sort of a physical injury," Stancavage said.

The pro-life activist was back to canvassing on Monday.

The organization's efforts in the heavily populated eastern Kansas will continue through 4:00 p.m. Tuesday. 

"This has never happened before," Stancavage insisted, stressing that "we engage in a lot of door-knocking."

"[It's] astonishing because it's never been something we've experienced to this extent," she added.

While the pro-life advocate expects to "run into people who take a different position," she reiterated that "someone running out of their house and acting this way has never happened."

Stancavage believes that the door-knocking campaign, which has consisted of "smaller groups this summer" but increased to 20 this weekend, has been fruitful.

"A lot of people have been receptive, which makes this particular incident very surprising," Stancavage contends. "But I will say it's helpful that we're here and working with other groups to try to educate voters on exactly what this amendment does because there has been some confusion around it. So I think our education has been effective."

The canvassing team has had over 1,700 door-knocking conversations on Sunday, according to Stancavage. 

"So we're really trying to move the dial and have this amendment pass so that Kansas has the ability to pass pro-life laws," she said. "We've been encouraged by hearing from a lot of people who weren't planning on voting that … it's been brought to their attention that there is a vote tomorrow."

Hartsock told Leawood Police that she wanted to press charges against the woman who assaulted her. The police informed her that they intended to investigate the matter. 

In a statement, Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, lamented that "a grown woman took out her frustrations over abortion on a teenager who volunteered to let people know about the Kansas ballot initiative."

Hawkins cited Hartsock's return to canvassing so soon after the attack as evidence that "the Pro-Life Generation will not be forced into silence or fear because of radical pro-abortionists who show no regard for life, inside or outside of the womb, and no respect for the free speech rights of their fellow citizens."

A poll conducted by co/efficient revealed that 47% of likely primary voters planned on supporting the Value Them Both Amendment while 43% would likely oppose it. The remaining 10% are undecided. 

The assault against Hartsock comes five weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. The Dobbs decision and the leaked draft opinion have caused outrage among pro-abortion activists, leading to much vandalism of churches and pro-life pregnancy centers across the nation. 

Hawkins classified the assault against Hartsock as the latest incident in the "Summer of Rage" promised by pro-abortion activists if Roe was overturned. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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