Kansas Supreme Court Issues Major Abortion Ruling

Six of seven Kansas Supreme Court justices agreed on Friday that the Sunflower State’s constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion; the ruling also blocked a ban on second-trimester dilation and evacuation abortions, which passed at the state level in 2015.

Abortion providers Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter Dr. Traci Nauser were the ones who challenged the ban and won on Friday.

In the opinion published by the court (which you can read below), the court said the Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights “affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one’s own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life—decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy.”

“We are now asked: Is this declaration of rights more than an idealized aspiration? And, if so, do the substantive rights include a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy? We answer these questions, ‘Yes,'” the high court said. “We conclude that, through the language in section 1, the state’s founders acknowledged that the people had rights that preexisted the formation of the Kansas government.”

“This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life—decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy. Although not absolute, this right is fundamental,” the court added. “Accordingly, the State is prohibited from restricting this right unless it is doing so to further a compelling government interest and in a way that is narrowly tailored to that interest.”

They said the appellees Hodes and Nauser successfully showed that they are “substantially likely to ultimately prevail on their claim that Senate Bill 95 violates these principles by severely limiting access to the safest procedure for second-trimester abortions.”

The only dissenting judge in this case was Caleb Stegall. He argued that the decision “fundamentally alters the structure of our government [to] “arbitrarily grant a regulatory reprieve [for abortion].”

The implications of the decision are major. As NPR noted, the “landmark ruling now stands as the law of the land in Kansas with no path for an appeal.” What’s more, “Because [the ruling] turns on the state’s constitution, abortion would remain legal in Kansas even if the Roe v. Wade case that established a national right to abortion is ever reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Kansas Supreme Court Ruling… by on Scribd

[Image via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]

Matt Naham is managing editor of Law&Crime. He formerly worked as news editor and weekend editor at Rare.

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