The Kansas Court of Appeals upheld a decision made by a lower court to stop a first-in-the-nation state law prohibiting a popular abortion procedure for women in their second-trimester.
Known by medical professionals as “dilation and evacuation,” the procedure came under attack last year when a law banning the practice came under review by a Shawnee County judge. The judge threw out the law, saying that it posed an unnecessary obstacle to women looking to terminate their pregnancies.
According to the Kansas City Star, the Kansas Court of Appeals was split in its decision and came down to a 7-7 vote. When the court comes to a tie, the lower court’s decision is maintained as the verdict.
The case is historically important because: one, the decision was made last Friday on the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Two, this is the first time an appeals court in the state had to determine if the Kansas Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion.
Dilation and evacuation is referred to as “dismemberment” by pro-life supporters to emphasize the arguably gruesome steps involved with the medical procedure. The method involves dilating the cervix and extracting the fetus with tools that might dissect it. In comparison to other techniques like using suction or medically induced miscarriages, dilation and evacuation is considered to be the safest operation for women 12 to 14 weeks into their pregnancy.
Appeals Court Judge Steve Leben wrote:
“We are not called upon in this case to announce, or to act upon, our own personal views regarding abortion. We have done our best to carry out that obligation to define the liberty of all — squarely based on the precedents of the Kansas Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court, which we are required to apply — and not to mandate our own moral code or religious beliefs.”
The state Supreme Court said it ruled in favor of the abortion procedure because the Bill of Rights in Kansas’ Constitution was comparable to the 14th Amendment in the US Constitution that provides equal protection and due process for citizens.
Leben continued: “Because the right to abortion is part of the liberty protected by the due process clause to the 14th Amendment, the Kansas Constitution provides the same right to abortion that is protected under federal law.”
The case was brought on by Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Rights. These two physicians argued that dilation and evacuation needed to be protected; otherwise, women would be forced out of having an abortion or be subjected to more dangerous procedures.
The opposing opinion insisted that abortion rights aren’t protected in the state’s Constitution.
Laura McQuade, The President of the Kansas and Mid-Missouri Planned Parenthood Advocates chapter referred to the ban as an “irresponsible attempt to restrict women’s access to safe, legal, surgical abortions. It is unfortunate Kansas lawmakers repeatedly need judicial reprimands for their unconstitutional policymaking when it comes to women’s health.”