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Kansas Supreme Court finds unfettered right to abortion in state constitution

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy

KANSAS, April 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― The Kansas Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling against a ban on dismemberment abortion today, arguing that a right to abortion exists in the state constitution.

According to National Public Radio (NPR), “The landmark ruling now stands as the law of the land in Kansas with no path for an appeal. Because it turns on the state's Constitution, abortion would remain legal in Kansas even if the Roe v. Wade case that established a national right to abortion is ever reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The case before the Supreme Court, Hodes & Nauser vs Schmidt, was brought by two late-term abortionists, notorious father-and-daughter team Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser, who were challenging Kansas’ 2015 ban on dismemberment abortions, an abortion technique that kills a second trimester fetus by tearing him or her limb-from-limb from within the womb.  

According to The Federalist, today’s ruling is significant because, unlike other decisions saying bans on dismemberment abortions are unconstitutional, “it is based on a state constitutional right to abortion.”

The ruling used euphemistic language to describe the destruction of the unborn child as a woman's decision to not continue a “pregnancy”.

“Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights provides: ‘All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’, the decision begins. 

"We are now asked: Is this declaration of rights more than an idealized aspiration? 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?” it continues. 

“We answer these questions, ‘Yes’."

Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life, told LifeSiteNews that her next task in defending the unborn child would be amending the Kansas Constitution.

“What happened today is horrendous,” she said, “but we intend to amend the Kansas Constitution to make it crystal clear that there is no right to abortion in it and certainly not one that would upend 45 years of pro-life legislation.” 

In a press release, she stated that the Kansas Supreme Court had created the “broadest right” to abortion in the USA. 

“With today's ruling, the Kansas Supreme Court has created the broadest right to abortion in the country,”  Culp said. 

“The Court has taken away the right of the people to pass reasonable abortion regulations into law, including partial-birth, live dismemberment, and sex-selection abortion bans,” she added. 

“The Court puts at risk basic safety measures protecting the health of women at abortion clinics. Today, the Court has imposed on the people of Kansas a New York-style unfettered right to abortion.”

Culp believes that the people of Kansas will not allow the decision to stand.

“Kansans for Life and its statewide network of grassroots activists will work strategically to amend the Kansas Constitution and ensure that duly enacted pro-life laws remain in place,” she wrote. 

One of the six judges, Justice Caleb Stegall, dissented from the pro-abortion ruling. In a long statement (pp 115 - 199), Stegall said that the case was as much about government as it was about abortion. 

“This case is not only about abortion policy—the most divisive social issue of our day—it is more elementally about the structure of our republican form of government,” he wrote.  

“Which is to say, this case is about the proper conditions for just rule. At bottom, this case is about finding and drawing the sometimes elusive line between law and arbitrary exercises of power,” he continued.  

“Here we venture onto a battlefield as old as politics itself. And as we argue about the structure of government—and ultimately delineate the proper conditions for just rule—we must never forget that we are also actively engaged in ruling.”

Stegall argued that the “structural idea that gave birth to Kansas as a political community, which has achieved consensus support across most of our history, is that the proper conditions for just rule are met via participatory consent to secure and promote the common welfare. Today, a majority of this court dramatically departs from this consensus. Today, we hoist our sail and navigate the ship-of-state out of its firm anchorage in the harbor-of-common-good and onto the uncertain waters of the sea-of-fundamental-values.” 

“Today we issue the most significant and far-reaching decision this court has ever made.”

He said that the decision of the other justices was so “consequential” because it altered the structure of the Kansas government to make the state more powerful and used that power to “grant a regulatory reprieve to the judicially privileged act of abortion.” In so doing, his fellow justices had rejected “the original public meaning of section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights.” It had also painted “the interest in unborn life championed by millions of Kansans as rooted in an ugly prejudice.”

“For these reasons, I dissent,” Stegall declared.  

He continued to say that he found the arguments used to “celebrate and enshrine a right to nearly unfettered abortion access” an “Alice-in-Wonderland experience.”

“In this imagined world, the Liberty Bell rings every time a baby in utero loses her arm.”

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