The pro-life movement took a hit this week in Kansas as the Kansas Supreme Court ruled there is a right to abortion in the state constitution.
The root of the decision involves a 2015 state law that bans dismemberment abortions, or dilation and evacuation (D&E), which tear nearly fully formed babies limb from limb while their hearts are still beating.
Abortionists Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser challenged the ban in court, and the Kansas Supreme Court issued its final decision Friday in the case, WBUR Radio reports.
Lower court judges ruled in favor of the abortionists by arguing that there is a right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution. The state Supreme Court upheld the ruling Friday and blocked the dismemberment ban, the AP reports.
The right of personal autonomy is “firmly embedded” in the state constitution, the majority justices wrote in their decision.
“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,” they wrote.
“Denying a pregnant woman the ability to determine whether to continue a pregnancy would severely limit her personal autonomy,” they continued. “And abortion laws do not merely restrict a particular action; they can impose an obligation on an unwilling woman to carry out a long-term course of conduct that will impact her health and alter her life.”
Justice Caleb Stegall dissented. He said the majority ignored what happens to an unborn baby in a dismemberment abortion, and pointed out that even liberal U.S. Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have described dismemberment abortions as “brutal” and “gruesome.”
Stegall criticized the majority ruling for “magnify[ing] the power of the state” and “using that power to arbitrarily grant a regulatory reprieve to the judicially privileged act of abortion.”
The state’s leading pro-life group criticized the ruling in remarks to LifeNews.
“This horrendous ruling is due to the Court’s false claim that there exists a ‘right to abortion’ in our 1859 state constitution,” Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life told Metro Voice. “The Court believes this unstated, so-called ‘right’ somehow trumps 45 years of citizen efforts that have cut the number of abortions in half, increased women’s right to know protections, and resulted in the first state law to send the heinous dismemberment abortion method packing.”
WIBW News noted that a majority of the Kansas Supreme Court justices were appointed by Democratic or moderate Republican governors.
Kansas was the first state in the nation to ban dismemberment abortions. Since then, 10 other states have joined it: Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Kentucky and North Dakota. Earlier this month, a judge blocked Ohio from enforcing its pro-life law.
Dismemberment abortion, otherwise known as dilation and evacuation (D&E), is a procedure in which the abortionist dilates the woman’s cervix and then uses steel instruments to dismember and extract the baby from the uterus. It is a common second-trimester abortion method that dismembers a nearly fully-formed unborn baby while his or her heart is still beating.
In many cases, the unborn babies may feel excruciating pain as they are being dismembered, Dr. Donna Harrison of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists testified recently before the Michigan state legislature. She pointed to studies and practices where unborn babies in the second trimester are given anesthesia during fetal surgery to protect them from feeling pain.