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Judge's Ruling Could Have Long-Term Impact on Kansas Abortion Laws

The Shawnee County Courthouse. (Photo by Stephen Koranda)

A ruling last month in a Kansas abortion lawsuit could have sweeping implications in the state. Shawnee County Judge Larry Hendricks blocked a new abortion restriction from taking effect because he said the Kansas Constitution includes a protection for abortion rights.

That came as a surprise to the group Kansans for Life, which pushed for the new abortion restriction. Jessie Basgall (BASS-gul), an attorney with the group, disagrees with the judge’s assertion.

“I think that what they found is not in our Constitution, this right that has now just been found that has never been found before. This is going to have a lot of impact,” says Basgall.

Janet Crepps, with the Center for Reproductive Rights, says there are a number of states where courts have recognized state constitutional protections for abortion rights.

“And several states, California, Alaska, Montana, Florida, have all recognized that it’s protected more strongly than the federal Constitution,” says Crepps.

If the judge’s ruling is upheld during the appeals process, Kansas courts could eventually offer more protection for abortion rights than offered by the federal courts. That could block future abortion restrictions or knock down restrictions already in place.

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