'Women Have The Right To Control Her Body': Kansas SC Upholds Right To Abortion [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
28 April 2019 2:55 PM GMT

"Denying a pregnant woman the ability to determine whether to continue a pregnancy would severely limit her right of personal autonomy."

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The Supreme Court of the state of Kansas has held that its Constitution protects a woman's right of personal autonomy to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy.

The court (by majority 6:1) upheld a Trial Court order of temporary injunction against enforcement of Senate Bill 95 (enacted by the state legislature in 2015) which prohibits physicians from performing a specific abortion method referred to in medical terms as Dilation and Evacuation (D & E) except when "necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman" or to prevent a "substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman."

The Trial Court had held that the sections 1 and 2 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights, like the Fourteenth Amendment, protect a fundamental right to abortion. Upholding this view of the Trial Court, the majority observed:

"Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights protects all Kansans' natural right of personal autonomy, which includes the right 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 majority held that denying a pregnant woman the ability to determine whether to continue a pregnancy would severely limit her right of personal autonomy. It said:

"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. Pregnancy often brings discomfort and pain and, for some, can bring serious illness and even death."

The court further observed:

"We no longer live in a world of separate spheres for men and women. True equality of opportunity in the full range of human endeavor is a Kansas constitutional value, and it cannot be met if the ability to seize and maximize opportunity is tethered to prejudices from two centuries ago. Therefore, rather than rely on historical prejudices in our analysis, we look to natural rights and apply them equally to protect all individuals." 

Read Judgment

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