Kansas High Court Split Over Second Trimester Abortion Ban
The Kansas Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling to blocked a ban on dialation and evacuation abortions, which involves dismembering babies during their removal in the womb.
The split decision ruling would uphold an injunction on the state's ban on the second trimester abortion method and the state's constitution would also protect abortion rights independently from the U.S Constitution.
"We discern a simple proposition: The rights of Kansas women in 2016 are not limited to those specifically intended by the men who drafted our state's constitution in 1859," Judge Steve Leben wrote on behalf of the seven judges who sided with the lower court.
If the decision stands it would allow the state to continue second trimester abortions and strengthen protection of abortion right when Planned Parenthood and similar organizations challenge legislatin and laws restricting abortion in Kansas.
Kansans for Life, a pro-life group, also recognized the potential impact. Legislative director, Kathy Ostrowski, suggested pushing for a constitutional amendment to clarify that the Kansas Constitution doesn't specifically protect abortion rights.
"I can't understate how horrific this is, and how problematic some litigation might be, under a ruling that the state has a right to abortion," Ostrowski said.
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who was in Washington accepting an award from a pro-life group Friday, called on the Kansas Supreme Court to quickly reverse the ruling.
"The court's failure to protect the basic human rights and dignity of the unborn is counter to Kansans' sense of justice," Brownback said. "Seven judges have chosen to create law based upon their own preferences rather than apply the law justly and fairly."
All four of Brownback's appointees to the appellate court voted to overturn Hendricks' decision, along with three judges appointed by Democratic governors, including Chief Judge Thomas Malone. The judges siding with Hendricks included six appointed by Democratic governors and one by a moderate Republican governor.
The dissenting judges wrote that balancing the rights of a pregnant woman and an unborn child is a question of public policy. They said the Legislature was "free to restrict abortion procedures," as long as federal law isn't violated.
During a rally at the Kansas Statehouse marking the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, David Gittrich with Kansans for Life said his group would work to oust the appellate court judges.
"How much worse can you get?" Gittrich said. "If any type of abortion should be banned, it's that one."