In a ruling this Friday, the Kansas state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitution protects a women’s right to have an abortion, NPR reports.
In the wake of the ruling, legal abortion is now state law and cannot be repealed, even if Roe vs Wade is reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, conservatives are upping their efforts to have voters add an abortion ban to the state constitution.
In the first section of the court’s ruling, the state’s Bill of Rights is cited, which reads: “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
“We are now asked: ‘Is this declaration of rights more than an idealized aspiration?'” the Court said in its ruling. “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 Court added that “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.”
“The State may only infringe upon the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy if the State has a compelling interest and has narrowly tailored its actions to that interest.”
The court took up the question of a constitutional right to abortion after two abortion providers in Overland Park, Kan. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, challenged a ban on dilation and evacuation abortions passed by the legislature in 2015.
The law known as the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act prohibits dilation and evacuation abortions except when necessary to preserve the life of the mother, prevent impairment of a major bodily function of the mother or where the fetus is already dead. The law was the first in the nation to ban the procedure, which is used for nearly all second-trimester abortions.
The procedure only accounts for 9 percent of abortions in Kansas. Anti-abortion rights activists call it “dismemberment abortion” but it’s known medically as dilation and evacuation, or D&E.
The Court’s decision prevents the state from enforcing a 2015 law that sought to limit second trimester abortions, preventing physicians from using forceps or other similar instruments on a live fetus to remove it from the womb in pieces, a procedure the law called “dismemberment abortion,” which is a non-medical term for the dilation and evacuation procedure.
According to the Detroit News, abortion providers performed 484 dilation and evacuation procedures in Kansas in 2018, which was only 6.9% of the state’s total abortions. Most abortions during that time period were conducted during the first trimester.
Read NPR’s full report here.