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Kansas judge overturns ban on some abortions, citing state Supreme Court ruling


A Kansas anti-abortion law — one that led to the landmark ruling that the state constitution protects the right to an abortion — was officially struck down Wednesday in district court.

A Shawnee County judge ruled that a ban on a procedure used during a woman’s second trimester did not fit the strict standards set forth by the Kansas Supreme Court for restrictions on abortion.

The ruling caps a six-year court battle that began after Kansas passed the bill banning dilation and evacuation abortions, most commonly used after the 14th or 15th week of pregnancy. Opponents call them dismemberment abortions.

A preliminary injunction issued early in the court case prevented the law from ever being enforced.

A legal challenge reached the Supreme Court in 2019. When the high court ruled that abortion is a “fundamental right” guaranteed by the constitution, it also sent the law back to the district court.

The lower court found that because there is “no reasonable alternative” to dilation and evacuation abortions during a woman’s second trimester, the law was not “narrowly tailored” to the state’s interest as required by the Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision reaffirms that ruling and ensures that Kansans have access to the best abortion care. This ban made it a crime for doctors to use their best medical judgment. This is not about medicine, it’s purely political,” Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a news release.

The district court ruled in the midst of an 18-month campaign for a constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn the Supreme Court ruling, declaring that there is no constitutional right to abortion in Kansas.

The Kansas Legislature approved the amendment in January, and it will be voted on by the general public in August 2022.

Proponents of the amendment, termed “Value Them Both,” said Wednesday’s ruling proves the need for the amendment.

“Value them both is the option, it is our only option,” said Brittany Jones, director of advocacy for the Family Policy Alliance of Kansas. “We’re not surprised in any way shape or form. This is what we’ve been telling legislators for two years now, and we had legislators who doubted us. Now we have proof that we were exactly correct.”

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Katie Bernard covers the Kansas Legislature and state government for the Kansas City Star. She joined the Star as a breaking news reporter in May of 2019 before moving to the politics team in December 2020. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.



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