Kansas Supreme Court Cites Constitution To Protect ‘Inalienable Natural’ Abortion Rights

The decision is expected to open up many doors for abortion rights activists.

Anti-abortion protestors hold signs near Freedom Plaza during the 2019 Women's March.
Zach Gibson / Getty Images

The decision is expected to open up many doors for abortion rights activists.

As Republican-controlled legislatures battle abortion rights, the Kansas Supreme Court sided in a 6-1 majority Friday with two physicians who conducted a second-trimester abortion. The court blocked a law that would have prevented the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions — dilation and evacuation procedures — and argued that the Kansas Constitution protects a woman’s right to decide if they want to proceed with a pregnancy.

NPR reports that the decision cites the first sections of the Kansas Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

“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 decision continues.

“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.'”

Per The New York Times, the ruling paves the way for abortion rights activists to challenge various other restrictions on abortion that were implemented by the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature.

The 2015 law that the Kansas Supreme Court blocked involves using surgical instruments and medical equipment to remove a fetus from a woman’s uterus. While Kansas was the first state to pass a law banning the procedure back in 2015, at least 11 others have enacted similar bans since then. However, Elizabeth Nash, an abortion legislation expert at the Guttmacher Institute, claims that most of them have been blocked at some point during their way through the legal system.

“This is the first time that the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled that abortion rights are protected under the state Constitution.”

Loading...

Nash claims that the new ruling means that almost all of the state’s abortion restrictions can now “be challenged and struck down.”

But as Nash highlights, Kansas is a conservative state that has seen a decrease in abortion rights in recent years. She highlights the possibility of a backlash against the new ruling that could push the anti-abortion movement to amend the state Constitution to prevent similar decisions in the future. Nash points out that this has already happened in Tennessee, Alabama, and West Virginia.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said that the Friday ruling was “horrendous” and says that her group plans to attempt to amend the Kansas state Constitution. She believes that it must be clear that it shouldn’t be used to infer the right to an abortion, which she believes reverses the 45 years of pro-life legislation in Kansas.