The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that abortion rights are protected by the state constitution and temporarily blocked a law banning a common form of second-trimester abortion.
Abortion-rights advocates hailed the decision as a victory, noting that it would keep abortion legal in the conservative state even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade—the 1973 decision legalizing abortion across the country.
“With today’s ruling Kansas’ highest court unequivocally affirmed that the state constitution guarantees women the right to safe and legal abortion,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.“As this decision makes clear, attempts to undermine that fundamental right by banning safe and accepted methods of abortion cannot stand.”
The decision stemmed from a case filed by the Center for Reproductive Rights nearly four years ago, challenging a 2015 ban on dilation and evacuation abortions. The passage of that law lead 11 other states to pass similar bans on the common second-trimester abortion procedure. A number of those have already been blocked by local courts.
After Friday’s decision, the Kansas law will remain blocked while litigation continues.
A growing number of states have moved to change their state constitutions in recent months, after Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination left the Supreme Court with an anti-abortion majority. States like Oregon and New York have passed laws enshrining the protections of Roe v. Wade in law, while others—like Alabama and Arkansas—have passed laws that would outlaw abortion immediately if the landmark decision was reversed.
According to NPR, Kansas legislatures are rallying to add an abortion ban amendment to the state constitution. But for now, the justices wrote, the state constitution protects “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,” their decision reads.