Kansas Justices Defend Right to Abortion in Recent Decisions

This photo shows the Kansas Judicial Center, home to the state Supreme Court, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023, in Topeka, Kans. Multiple computer systems for almost all of the state's courts have been knocked offline by what officials are calling a "security incident." (AP Photo/John Hanna)

United States: The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday announced its decisions regarding two pieces of legislation restricting abortion access, as the court stated for the second time that the state constitution recognizes the people’s right to bodily and reproductive self-determination.

Out of the ones listed, one of the cases was even dismissed by the higher court on the year 2015. The law in question outlawed one of the most frequently used procedures for second-trimester abortion, known as dilation and evacuation, except if it was necessary to prevent the death of the mother, as reported by The Hills.

In June 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court declared that an individual’s right to privacy entitles them to control their body, including the choice of whether or not to proceed with a pregnancy, and that any interference with this right has to be something that can ‘‘meet strict scrutiny.’’

Dismissal of 2015 Case and D&E Procedure Ban

The case was remanded to a district court, which concluded that there was ‘no adequate substitute’ for D & E and that the Kansas state government did not establish that the law was constitutional, thus permanently restraining the legislation from implementation. The state Supreme Court upheld that decision this week.

“The State devoted much of its brief to inviting us to reverse our earlier ruling in this case that the Kansas Constitution protects a right to abortion. We decline the invitation,” Justice Eric S. Rosen wrote in the opinion.

Licensing Regulations for Abortion Providers

Regarding another case of legal action that began in 2011, the Kansas Supreme Court arrived at the decision that the licensing regulations for abortion doctors violated the constitutional rights of women to bodily integrity and did not pass the strict scrutiny test.

In 2011 the Kansas state legislature enacted new requirements for any clinic, hospital, or ambulatory surgical center, in which any second or third-trimester elective abortion or five or more first-trimester elective abortions are performed in a month, excluding any abortion performed due to a medical emergency.”

The guidelines included, among other things, a provision that a physician had to be present during the administration of a drug that caused an abortion to a patient, as reported by The Hills.

The state had argued that the plaintiffs were incompetent to sue in the class capacity and that the district court was wrong in its ruling. However, the state’s high court said that the law was unconstitutional while noting there was standing because the plaintiffs, whose cancellations are at issue, a woman health clinic, had shown that it was subjected to ‘an actual or threatened injury’ under the law.

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