The pro-life movement just suffered a significant legal setback in a state supreme court, and not in one of the predominately liberal coastal states, but right in America’s conservative heartland.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a 2015 law banning a common type of abortion in the second trimester was in violation of protections contained in the state’s constitution, thereby preventing its enforcement.
Ban on second trimester “dismemberment” abortions overturned
The Washington Times reported that the language of the 2015 law prohibited doctors from utilizing the abortion method known in medical terms as a dilation and evacuation, but often referred to in laymen’s terms as a “dismemberment abortion.”
Such a procedure involves the use of forceps and other instruments to essentially dismember a live fetus in order to remove it from the womb, piece by piece.
That particular piece of legislation ultimately served as the model for similar laws in 10 other states — Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Texas, and West Virginia.
Unfortunately, the court ruling in Kansas could pave the way for those and other statutes strictly limiting abortion to be similarly struck down by courts in jurisdictions across the country.
Court’s interpretation of “personal autonomy”
The Kansas Supreme Court interpreted language within the state’s constitution that guaranteed “equal and inalienable rights” to all people to mean that everyone enjoyed a “natural right of personal autonomy” including the right to “control one’s own body.”
The court further determined that this particular right stood apart and separate from the U.S. Constitution, and was therefore within the sole purview of the state’s courts to strike down or uphold any legislation related to it.
“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 court determined in the 6-1 majority opinion.
Not surprisingly, the ruling drew sharp criticism from some in the Republican-controlled state legislature, such as conservative Senate President Susan Wangle from Wichita, who said, “The liberal, activist Supreme Court showed just how out of touch they are with Kansas values.”
“We understand that life is sacred, beginning at conception, and we must always stand and defend the most vulnerable among us, the unborn,” she added.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, the Republican legislature in the state will do now to try and legislatively guarantee those same “equal and inalienable rights” cited by the court to innocent, unborn babies.