abortion

TOPEKA, Kansas — Abortion opponents appear divided on the best strategy to overcome the Kansas Supreme Court's ruling that the state constitution guarantees a right to the procedure.

KMUW/File photo

A jury on Tuesday ruled against an anti-abortion activist in his lawsuit against a prominent Wichita abortion rights advocate.

Chris Neal for the Kansas News Service

Kansas lawmakers spent years imposing ever tougher restrictions on abortion and then saw the state Supreme Court declare that women hold a right to the procedure.

Now Republicans and abortion opponents appear determined to amend the Kansas Constitution to reverse that ruling.

Joe Gratz / flickr Creative Commons

A jury is hearing arguments this week in a years-long case involving a prominent Wichita abortion rights advocate and an anti-abortion protester.

Mark Holick is suing Julie Burkhart, head of the abortion rights group Trust Women, in federal court over what he alleges was a damaging and unlawful restraining order against him.

This spring, abortion rights supporters scored a massive legal victory: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that women have the right to abortion under the state constitution.

That means even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns its 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, lawmakers won’t be able to ban abortion in Kansas unless voters amend the state constitution.

Bloomsberries / flickr Creative Commons

A recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling declaring that the state constitution protects access to abortion opened the door to a new legal attack on the death penalty.

Exactly 10 years ago, on May 31, 2009, an anti-abortion zealot gunned down ob/gyn and reproductive rights advocate George Tiller as he was distributing literature in the foyer of his Wichita church.

His murder marked the culmination of 18 years of militant anti-abortion protests that began with massive demonstrations in Wichita in June 1991. Protestors blockaded abortion clinics for weeks during the “Summer of Mercy,” police made more than 2,600 arrests and a judge ordered U.S. marshals to keep the gates of Tiller’s clinic open.

In April, the Kansas Supreme Court said the state’s constitution gives women a right to abortion.

That landmark ruling bolsters an ongoing lawsuit to expand access to abortion in Wichita. The case aims to clear the way for a clinic there — unable to find any willing, local doctors — to lean more on physicians in other states.

A day after Kansas notified Planned Parenthood in May 2016 that it would cut off its participation in Medicaid, the nonprofit group sued to block the move.

So Kansas hired three high-powered East Coast law firms to defend it in a case that would slog on for nearly three years before Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s administration agreed to drop the termination effort in April.

In the waning days of the 2019 session, the conservative Republicans controlling the Kansas Legislature made one thing clear to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly and her allies: They were ready for a fight against Medicaid expansion.  

The issue commanded the four-month session, which ended in the wee hours Sunday. The session was the first with the new Democratic governor in office, which gave people who wanted to expand health coverage for thousands of low-income Kansans the energy to push hard in the final days. Their efforts ultimately failed.

 


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