Archbishop Joseph Naumann's prayer echoing across the Kansas Capitol rotunda called for defeat of merchants of death in the abortion industry and chastisement of judicial despots through passage of a constitutional amendment wiping away a court decision declaring women possessed a right to abortion.

Naumann, who leads the archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, said Pope Francis personally assured him during a recent trip to Rome the pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church stood with Kansans who treasured human life from womb to tomb. The archbishop said the proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution pending in both the Kansas House and Senate was necessary to strike a blow against the Kansas Supreme Court. The justices' milestone opinion in April was celebrated by pro-choice activists because it declared a right to abortion was wedged into the state's Bill of Rights.

"Let the people rise up and refuse to be ruled by an oligarchy of unelected judges and return the responsibilities for this issue to our elected officials," Naumann said. "Give us the courage of David to defeat the goliaths of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry and all who make up the culture of death."

No more forceful invocation of religious faith in a political context could have been issued to 40 senators and 125 representatives up for re-election this year and preparing to vote on the defining issue of the 2020 session. Despite notions of separation of church and state, the amendment would appear on August ballots statewide if two-thirds of lawmakers in both chambers backed the resolution. Outcome of the amendment will be determined by a simple majority at the ballot box.

Amendment advocates appear to have the minimum 27 votes required in the Senate. Questions linger in the House about whether supporters locked down 84 votes to close the deal.

"Our No. 1 priority is the life amendment," said House Speaker Ron Ryckman, R-Olathe. "We're still waiting to see what the Senate produces."

Failure to obtain an affirmative vote for the amendment in either chamber would be a devastating setback for forces hell-bent on throttling the Supreme Court.

While pro-life forces assert the state's highest court invented rights not envisioned in 1859 and placed in jeopardy decades of work on state laws eroding access to abortion, pro-choice advocates believe the amendment raised the prospect of a ban on abortion in Kansas. The amendment would revert Kansas to status quo prior to the April decision by the Supreme Court. However, opponents of the amendment believe passage would invite absolutists to seek an abortion ban in Kansas if Roe v. Wade was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Supporters of this amendment may try to hide their extreme agenda, but the people of Kansas will not be fooled," said Nigel Morton, a Kansas organizer with United for Reproductive and Gender Equity.

The black-and-white phrasing of the amendment has created conflict for House and Senate moderates in both parties intrigued by the proposal but alarmed by political calculations of Kansans for Life, which operates a political action committee poised to undermine legislators who don't fall in line. KFL and its allies chose to exclude from the amendment a clause preserving the procedure to save the life of a pregnant woman or in instances of rape or incest leading to pregnancy. Such an exemption would reflect Kansas law on abortion.

"There would be no guard rail," said Rep. Jeff Pittman, a Leavenworth Democrat serving a diverse district.

The extraordinary whip-lashing process manufactured by GOP leadership to force swift action on the amendment -- one day of joint House and Senate public testimony on the amendment, ramrodding the resolution through committees a few days later -- has drawn criticism from people who consider it folly to hastily approach changes to the Kansas Constitution.

Another flaw of the campaign operated by amendment supporters, from the vantage point of fans of the democratic process, would be placement of the reform on August ballots. That's when the fewest people turn out to vote. It's a hassle for independents to take part in Kansas primaries. In Kansas, Democratic turnout at primaries is soft because they have fewer contested primaries than Republicans. The GOP is aware a more representative sample of abortion sentiment among Kansans could be drawn in November as voters head to polls for the presidential election.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars will be spent to sway voter opinion on the amendment regardless of timing.

Republicans embarked on this amendment-development blitz to fire up their base heading into a 2020 election cycle falling two years after the Kansas GOP was wounded by losses in races for governor and the KC metro congressional seat. Republicans glum about escalating public support for Medicaid expansion want an ideological win before House and Senate majorities make Kansas the 37th state to broaden eligibility for health care under Medicaid. And, of course, personal ambition is on the line.

Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring Pat Roberts, wants the amendment on the ballots in August rather than November due to a belief it would help him wiggle past chief rival Kris Kobach, a Fox News frequent flier who has campaigned statewide multiple times. Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Barbara Bollier, a state senator from Johnson County, turned the ruckus into a fund-raising opportunity.

Senate President Susan Wagle, who seized on the abortion issue to generate buzz for her U.S. Senate bid, spoke at the pro-life rally featuring Naumann.

"We are created beings by a loving God," she said. "We earn our rights from that creator God. Not from governments."