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Abortion Opponents Rally At The Kansas Statehouse

Stephen Koranda
Abortion opponents rally outside the Kansas Statehouse Monday.

Around 1,000 abortion opponents gathered at the Kansas Statehouse Monday for an annual rally marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion.

Gov. Sam Brownback told the crowd to keep its eyes on the Kansas Supreme Court. The high court is reviewing a lawsuit in which a lower court ruled that the state Constitution protects a woman's right to abortion.

“Yet this can never really be true, that abortion is a right," Brownback said. "Our rights come from God, and amongst them is the inherent right to life."

The lawsuit was prompted by a so-called “dismemberment abortion” ban put in place by the Legislature.

Kathy Ostrowski with the group Kansans for Life says the lawsuit has the potential to knock down multiple abortion restrictions.

“Right now, if the state says the right to abortion is even broader than Roe [v. Wade], and the state can’t even ban one method, we’ll have to put our thinking caps on and discuss what we’re going to do,” Ostrowski said.

Ostrowski said they’re emboldened by the election of President Donald Trump, but it will take a shift in the U.S. Supreme Court before major abortion policy changes can happen.

The event came just two days after another rally at the Statehouse, this one by women who don’t support Trump. Many of them also demonstrated in favor of reproductive rights.

Abortion opponents have been successful in recent years adding new restrictions to the procedure in Kansas. Elise Higgins with Planned Parenthood Great Plains said she believes the new crop of lawmakers won't be as open to additional abortion restrictions and will instead focus on the state's budget and tax issues.

"People who showed up in Topeka on Saturday made it clear that they're ready for their legislators to tackle the real problems facing the state," Higgins said.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.