NRL News

Decision by Kansas Supreme Court will likely have ripple effect on other pro-life legislation

by | Apr 13, 2016

By Dave Andrusko

supremecourtKSemblemIf you missed it yesterday, please read the story posted by Kathy Ostrowski, the legislative director for Kansans for Life and a frequent contributor to NRL News Today. Kathy’s headline summarized the import of the case: “Kansas Supreme Court ruling on dismemberment abortion ban will impact the nation.”

When Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signs HB 519, four states will have passed the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act. Besides Kansas, Oklahoma and West Virginia have also sent the message that their states will not tolerate a “procedure” that is ferociously barbaric.

Imagine the abortionist as he reaches into the mother’s womb with a variety of sharp-edged metal clamps and tools, yanks off parts of the child, pulling them out, piece by piece, until the child bleeds to death. Hard to imagine, even harder to stomach.

The Kansas Supreme Court will be the first to rule on the constitutionality of the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Act. But equally important, as Kathy explained, was the grounds on which a father-daughter team of abortionists challenged SB 95: that it violated the state constitution.

Heretofore, no judge had been (to be polite) imaginative enough to dream up a right to kill unborn babies located in the Kansas Constitution. Enter Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks.

As both Kathy and NRL News Today reported, Hendricks issued a temporary injunction on June 25, 2015, in a lawsuit brought on behalf of Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Traci Nauser, by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

An obliging Judge Hendricks dutifully ruled that Sections 1 and 2 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights guarantee a right to abortion. The State Attorney General appealed, the state Supreme Court initially voted not to hear the case, and on January 22, an evenly divided Kansas Court of Appeals deadlocked on Hendricks’s decision, 7-7.

Both sides appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court and, in the words of the Topeka Capital-Journal’s Justin Wingerter

With six simple words Monday, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed to consider the most divisive question before it in recent years: whether the Kansas Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion.

“Considered by the court and granted,” wrote Chief Justice Lawton Nuss in response to a request by Attorney General Derek Schmidt that the high court decide the matter.

Wingerter’s story is important because it reminds the casual reader that more than the fate of one pro-life law, important as it is, is at issue:

Advocates and attorneys on both sides believe the court’s ruling will have ramifications for other abortion laws passed in recent years. If the justices find a right to abortion exists in the Kansas Constitution, [CRR senior counsel Janet] Crepps has said she plans to challenge more restrictions on abortion in state courts.

“There are two other cases pending challenging provisions that have been passed by the Legislature, so the decision in this case could have an impact on both of those cases and future restrictions that might be passed by the Legislature,” Crepps said in December.

Kathy succinctly stated the stakes in her conclusion:

Our state Constitution was enacted in 1859, when abortion was illegal in Kansas and across the nation. Yet one radical judge of the Kansas Court of Appeals, G. Gordon Atcheson, believes that the state Constitution is an “evolving” document with an “ever more enlightened understanding of humanity” to support women’s “self-determination.”

The challenge we face is whether a majority of the Kansas Supreme Court will follow the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding that allows states to ban barbaric abortion methods, or whether it will blaze a trail that the dismembering of unborn children comports with an “enlightened understanding of humanity.”

In an age where corrective pediatric surgery is now routinely performed in the womb, Americans increasingly press for pro-life legislation that respects and protects unborn children.

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Categories: Judicial