Civil Rights

Kansas Supreme Court rules state constitution guarantees abortion rights, even if Roe is overturned

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A decision by the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday means that even if Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortions would stay legal in the state.

In the nearly 200-page landmark ruling, the court blocked a 2015 state law that aimed to restrict a common second-trimester abortion procedure and held that the Kansas Constitution protects a woman’s right to an abortion. The Washington Post, NPR and CBS News are among news outlets that have reports.

“Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights provides: ‘All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ ” the court said in the decision. “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 ruling comes as more than 11 Republican-led states across the Midwest and the South have supported laws banning abortion procedures after six weeks, the Washington Post reports.

Kansas had historically been one of the most restrictive states with only four abortion clinics and a mandate that women undergo counseling and wait 24 hours before getting an abortion, CBS News says. The state also prohibits abortions after 20 weeks.

Genevieve Scott, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights, which brought the challenge on behalf of two doctors who perform abortions in Kansas, told the Washington Post that the ruling will make it difficult for the state legislature or the federal government to restrict access to abortions in Kansas.

“This will make Kansas a haven state in the Midwest if federal laws protecting abortion are overturned or significantly limited or undercut in other states,” she said.

The Friday decision also could speed up conservative legislators’ efforts to ask voters to add a ban on abortions to the Kansas Constitution, NPR reports.

Mary Kay Culp, spokeswoman Kansans for Life, an anti-abortion group, told the Washington Post that her group will push to amend the state’s constitution to make it “crystal clear there is no state constitutional right to abortion here that somehow trumps 45 years of pro-life legislation.”

See also: “Will Supreme Court allow restrictive abortion law to take effect? Some look for clue to Roe viability” “21 states announce suits over ban on federal funds for clinics that provide abortion referrals” “Do frozen embryo rulings have implications in abortion debate? Supreme Court asked to weigh in” “ABA opposes proposal to ban abortion counseling and referrals at clinics that receive federal funds” “We need to talk about abortion, says author of ‘Scarlet A’”

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