Kansas Supreme Court to consider right to abortion

In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2015 file photo, Kansas Supreme Court Justices prepare to hear arguments during a session in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)

? The Kansas Supreme Court has agreed to consider a groundbreaking ruling that determined the conservative state’s constitution protects abortion rights independently from the U.S. Constitution.

The appeal came after the Kansas Court of Appeals refused to implement the state’s first-in-the-nation ban on a common second-trimester abortion method. Critics fear that if the ruling is upheld, it could be used by abortion rights supporters to challenge other state laws restricting abortion.

Attorneys on both sides asked the high court to consider the case. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss granted the request on Monday. No hearing has been set.

The case centers on the constitutionality of a measure Kansas lawmakers passed last year that bars the use of certain techniques used in dilation and evacuation abortions. The case involves two abortion clinic owners from Overland Park who sued last year to stop the law from taking effect, arguing it put an unfair burden on their right to perform abortions.

In a ruling last summer, a Shawnee County District Court judge sided with the clinics — but also said a section of the Kansas Constitution ensures the right to terminate a pregnancy. The Kansas Court of Appeals upheld the decision 7-7, because tie vote means the lower court ruling stands. The ruling was released in January, on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.

Kansans for Life said the state Supreme Court ruling could impact other states with similar restrictions.

“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,” said Mary Kay Culp, the group’s executive director.

Janet Crepps of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the abortion providers suing the state, said: “The fundamental right of women in Kansas to access abortion and receive the health care that their physician thinks is best is at stake in this case.”