Battery charges filed after alleged assault on pro-life teen canvassing in KC suburb

A woman has been arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery after an alleged assault on a pro-life teen going door to door in support of the Kansas constitutional amendment on abortion. 

Grace Hartsock, 18, from Austin, Texas, contacted police in the Kansas City suburb of Leawood on Sunday describing the incident. She was representing the group Students for Life Action (SFL) when she was allegedly attacked in the 11200 block of Granada Lane, according to the Kansas City Star. 

“She was told by the person who first answered the door that they did not wish to discuss the topic,” said Capt. Brad Robbins, a spokesman for the Leawood Police Department. As she was walking away, another woman inside the home yelled at Hartsock before striking her, Robbins said. 

Police did not initially release the name of the 37-year-old suspect arrested Wednesday. 

“It’s unfathomable that the pro-choice movement claims to be ‘pro-woman’ and yet attacks women who don’t agree with their narrative,” Hartsock said in a statement released by SFL.

Hartsock managed to record part of the encounter on her phone, which was released by SFL.  

In the police report, Hartsock said the woman threw a piece of food that hit her in the face, and followed Hartsock down the street. The woman also used profanity and statements such as, “I hope you get raped” and “I hope you get run over by a car,” according to Hartsock. 

“In knocking on thousands of doors nationwide, we’ve never experienced such an unprovoked attack,” said the group’s president, Kristan Hawkins.  

Tensions ran high in Kansas over the constitutional amendment, which was rejected on Tuesday. Tallies by the Associated Press showed 59% voted no, while 41% voted yes. The “Value Them Both” amendment would have reauthorized Kansas lawmakers to pass restrictions on abortion, and would presumably have protected current restrictions including a requirement for parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. 

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that there is an implicit right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution. The amendment would have effectively overturned that ruling. 

In the weeks before the election, the amendment’s supporters had filed numerous reports of vandalism and theft. Pro-life organizers also pleaded for accurate media reporting, following erroneous rumors and misinformation surrounding the amendment. 

“The fact that we’re seeing this escalation of intimidation, aggression, acts of vandalism – that is not a Kansas value,” said Danielle Underwood, director of communications for Kansans for Life. “That tells us that we have outside forces that have been coming in with extreme views into Kansas, trying to force this on Kansas, to become a destination state for unlimited abortions, even abortions up until the moment of birth.” 

Area moms reported censorship and bullying on social media if they voiced a pro-life position in the days leading up to the election. 

 “What I was seeing was, oftentimes the original posts were pro-abortion, and then if a mom that was pro-life were to comment, she would be bullied,” said Casey Thomas, who started the “Conservative KC Moms” Facebook group in response to the intimidation. 

“It would be one thing if this was happening in specific groups [where] it’s very clear that that’s how they feel. But it’s very dangerous to do that in these moms groups with thousands of members.”