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Kansas Supreme Court rules that abortion is protected by the state's constitution

Before this ruling, Kansas was one of the most pro-life states in this country

JOE STUMPE/AFP/Getty Images

The Kansas State Supreme Court ruled on Friday that laws restricting abortion go against the state's constitution. Only one of the court's seven justices dissented.

What did the court say?

In its decision, the court wrote (emphasis added):

Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes the ability to control one's own body, to assert bodily integrity, and to exercise self-determination. This right allows a woman to make her own decisions regarding her body, health, family formation, and family life— decisions that can include whether to continue a pregnancy

The court asked if the "equal and inalienable rights" granted by the Kansas Constitution's Bill of Rights includes a woman's right to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy." It determined that the answer to this was "yes."

"The State may only infringe upon the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy," the court argued "if the State has a compelling interest and has narrowly tailored its actions to that interest."

In his dissent, Kansas Supreme Court Justice Caleb Stegall argued that the ruling "fundamentally alters the structure of our government to magnify the power of the state" and accused the majority of painting "the interest in unborn life championed by millions of Kansans as rooted in an ugly prejudice."

What else?

There is no path for this ruling to be appealed. In 2014, however, voters from Tennessee amended that state's constitution to clarify that the Tennessee state constitution did not prohibit the legislature from passing laws pertaining to abortion in response to a similar ruling from the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The state had passed the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act in 2015, which is what triggered this lawsuit. In January, Americans United for Life had listed Kansas as the fourth-most pro-life state in the country, after Arizona, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.

Geniveve Scott, the lead counsel for the Center for Reproductive Health lawsuit that led to the ruling, called it "an incredible decision that really defines what the legal standard now is in Kansas."

One last thing…
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