Politics & Government

Does the Kansas Constitution include right to abortion? Supreme Court will rule Friday

A decision on abortion rights could spark a confrontation when Kansas lawmakers get back to work next week.
A decision on abortion rights could spark a confrontation when Kansas lawmakers get back to work next week.

The Kansas Supreme Court will rule Friday on whether the state constitution protects the right to an abortion, potentially setting up an explosive confrontation over the issue when lawmakers return to the Statehouse next week.

Abortion rights supporters and opponents have been waiting more than two years for the decision. The court’s opinion may determine whether abortion remains legal in Kansas if the nationwide right to an abortion established by Roe v. Wade is ever reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Kansas Office of Judicial Administration said the decision will be posted online around 9:30 a.m. Friday.

Kansans for Life, the state’s leading anti-abortion group, has vowed to pursue an amendment to the state constitution if justices rule that it includes the right to an abortion. Abortion rights opponents hold strong majorities in both houses of the Legislature and would potentially have the two-thirds support needed to advance an amendment.

If lawmakers approve an amendment, it would go to a statewide vote. Gov. Laura Kelly, an abortion rights supporter, would not have the power to veto it.

The Supreme Court’s Friday ruling stems from a lawsuit over Senate Bill 95, a 2015 law that prohibits doctors from performing dilation and evacuation abortions. That procedure is used in 95 percent of second-trimester abortions and involves the use of surgical tools to remove the fetus.

The law, under a court injunction, has never been enforced.

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Jonathan Shorman covers Kansas politics and the Legislature for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. He’s been covering politics for six years, first in Missouri and now in Kansas. He holds a journalism degree from the University of Kansas.
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