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Overland Park Police searching for vandal who graffitied ‘My body my choice’ at Catholic Church

The words "My Body My Choice" appear on a concrete wall in faded lettering.
Rachel Schnelle
KCUR 89.3
The words "My body my choice" were spray painted in red on the wall of the School of the Church of the Ascension. The graffiti has since been cleaned, but the faded message remains.

The incident happened early Sunday morning at Church of the Ascension. Police said a female suspect was seen running northbound from the scene.

Overland Park police are searching for a suspect in an act of vandalism at Church of Ascension early Sunday morning.

Church officials say the words "my body my choice" were spray-painted on the walls of Church of the Ascension's grade school around 1 a.m. Sunday. A statue of The Blessed Mary and the school’s front doors were also vandalized.

Police said a female suspect was seen running northbound from the scene Sunday. The investigation is still open and no arrests have been made.

The incident follows the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court. In Kansas, abortion rights are still protected by its state’s constitution, but a constitutional amendment to remove that protection dubbed as the “Value Them Both Amendment” is on the ballot for Aug. 2. Many Catholic churches are pouring efforts into campaigning for this measure.

Rachel Schnelle
KCUR 89.3
A "Vote Yes" sign across from the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park was one of many scattered around the church's property.

The Leaven, the official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, released a statement in response to the vandalism.

In the statement, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, called the attack vulgar and un-American.

“The intention is clearly meant to intimidate and threaten the Church’s pro-life beliefs and position of support for the Value Them Both amendment. We will not be deterred,” he said.

Debra Nieson, lead consultant for Pro-Life Ministries of Kansas, accused opponents of the amendment of fearmongering.

“We realize that this is a very emotional topic, but we believe that a lot of the emotion, unfortunately, is coming because there is so much misinformation coming from the opposition ... that is scaring people and elevating to this level of unnecessary rage,” Nieson said. “We really wanna encourage people to really, learn what it is, read the amendment."

Passed by the Kansas Legislature, the “Value Them Both Amendment” would change the Kansas Constitution to declare that there is no right to an abortion in the state.

The amendment would not ban abortions outright. However, it would open the door to state lawmakers to then pass laws restricting abortion access.

Here is a link to the full ballot language. Voting “yes” means you are in favor of removing the right to an abortion from the Kansas Constitution, while voting “no” would reject the amendment and keep existing protections for abortion access.

Both Naumann and Nieson asked for prayers for the church of Ascension and encouraged civil conversation.

Rachel Schnelle is an intern for KCUR 89.3. She is an alum of the Missouri School of Journalism.
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