KS judge strikes down law banning abortion procedure

A Kansas anti-abortion law — which led to the landmark ruling that the state constitution protects the right to abortion — was formally struck down by a district court on Wednesday.

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

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

A preliminary injunction issued at the start of the trial prevented enforcement.

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 in a woman’s second trimester, the law was not “narrowly tailored” to the state interest as required by the Supreme Court.

“Today’s decision reaffirms that decision 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. It’s not about medicine, it’s purely political,” Nancy Northup, President and CEO of Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a press release.

The district court ruled amid an 18-month campaign for a constitutional amendment that would effectively overturn the Supreme Court’s decision, declaring 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, called “Value Them Both,” said Wednesday’s ruling proves the need for the amendment.

“Valuing them both is the option, it’s our only option,” said Brittany Jones, advocacy director for the Kansas Family Policy Alliance. “We are in no way surprised by the shape or form. That’s what we’ve been telling lawmakers for two years now, and we’ve had lawmakers doubting us. We now have proof that we were absolutely right.

This story was originally published April 7, 2021 5:39 p.m.

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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 2019 before joining the political team in December 2020. Katie studied journalism and political science at the University of Kansas.

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