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Kansas Supreme Court: Kansas constitution protects woman's right to abortion

(NBC15)
Published: Apr. 26, 2019 at 9:43 AM CDT
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The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled for the first time that the state constitution protects abortion rights and has blocked a first-in-the-nation ban on a common second trimester procedure.

The court's ruling Friday was a major victory for abortion rights supporters in a state with an anti-abortion Legislature.

It prevents the state from enforcing a 2015 law that could have reduced second-trimester abortions and allows challenges to other restrictions under the state constitution.

The court said language in the Kansas Constitution guaranteeing individual rights protects a woman's right to obtain an abortion independent of the U.S. Constitution. Kansas courts could strike down restrictions that have been upheld by the federal courts.

The decision also stymies the attempt by abortion opponents to outlaw what the law described as "dismemberment abortion."

Abortion-rights supporters like Julie Burkhart say the ruling is nothing short of a win.

"This means that in the state of Kansas, we will be able to continue to provide reproductive healthcare as we have been doing for six years now, and we have that safeguard now with the opinion of the state supreme court," Burkhart says.

Some anti-abortion groups say they will now work to change the state's constitution.

"That's the option that's left for us. We're not going to stand by and allow it to go unchallenged," says abortion opponent Mary Wilkerson. "Kansans for Life will be working to pass a constitutional amendment here in the State of Kansas."

Wilkerson says the Kansas Supreme Court's decision doesn't represent the values of the people they serve.