Challenge to Supreme Court ruling could change the future of abortions in Kansas

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — A challenge to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling could change the future of how abortions are conducted in the state.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced on Wednesday that he will appeal a district court decision from earlier this year in Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt, which found the state’s law prohibiting dismemberment abortions violates the Kansas Constitution. Schmidt filed a docketing statement with the Kansas Supreme Court, notifying the court of his intent to appeal the case.

Pro-life advocates told Kansas Capitol Bureau on Thursday, the reversal of the decision would open doors for new, much-needed regulations in the state.

“Those would include things like parental involvement in a minor daughter’s abortion decision, no taxpayer funding of abortion. Just basic health and safety standards for abortion facilities,” said Jeanne Gawdun, director of Government Relations for Kansans for Life.

Gawdun is a strong advocate of the “Value Them Both” amendment, a measure that would overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that found that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right.

The 2019 decision also played a critical role in the Hodes & Nauser v. Schmidt case ruling.

In April, Shawnee County District Court Judge Teresa L. Watson found the law prohibiting dismemberment practices, Senate Bill 95 passed in 2015, violated the Kansas Constitution.

Watson relied on the Kansas Supreme Court decision in an earlier stage of this case that found a “fundamental right to abortion” in Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights. That section of the state’s constitution cites “inalienable rights,” which the Supreme Court determined to mean “personal autonomy” for women, including in matters of pregnancy.

In her ruling, Watson noted that while she disagreed with the Kansas Supreme Court’s legal reasoning and conclusions in that case, she was bound by its decision. 

Schmidt said that, among other legal issues, he will ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its interpretation of the state constitution from the prior decision. Republican lawmakers in the Kansas Legislature proposed the “Value Them Both” amendment to the state constitution in response to the court’s earlier decision, and it is scheduled for a public vote in August 2022.

Some abortion advocates said the decision to move forward with an appeal could pave the way for banning abortion completely.

This news is sadly not surprising. Both the constitutional amendment and this challenge to the Hodes decision are part of a larger agenda to undermine sexual and reproductive health and rights, and impose the values of a few on millions of Kansans. Their goal is to change the Kansas Constitution to pave the way for banning abortion outright.”

Statement from Mandy Culbertson, Director of Communications at Planned Parenthood Great Plains

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