Hey Now, Check Out Kansas Being All Not Terrible About Reproductive Rights!
Lo these past few weeks, there have been so many bad abortion bills in so many states that just yesterday I told the Editrix that I am running out of things to even say about them. It's been like some terrible version of Groundhog's Day where instead of getting to hang out with a groundhog--which I believe would be awesome--I just keep having to keep writing the same article about women and others losing their reproductive rights across the country, over and over and over again. It really does suck. Not as much as these bills suck, obviously, but it sucks.
But, if I may quote the intro to one of my favorite jazz standards, "every cloud must have a silver lining," and this week has blessed us with some very happy news coming from a very unexpected place -- Kansas.
Yes, Kansas! On Friday, the state's Supreme Court ruled that their state constitution protects the right to abortion, ensuring that it will remain legal in the state even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe. Hot damn!
The decision, in which one of the seven justices dissented, cites in its first sentence the first section of the Kansas Constitution's Bill of Rights: "All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
The decision continues: "We are now asked: 'Is this declaration of rights more than an idealized aspiration? And, if so, do the substantive rights include a woman's right to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy? We answer these questions, 'Yes.' "
The court continued that "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 State may only infringe upon the right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy," the ruling continued, "if the State has a compelling interest and has narrowly tailored its actions to that interest."
This decision came about as a result of a challenge to the state's ban on dilation and evacuation abortions, which you may recall Indiana banned just yesterday.
By now, we all know the story about Kansas--how it was a pretty socially and economically progressive state, up until the 1990s when everyone there pretty much lost their minds and became super right-wing. There was a whole book and documentary about it and everything (and, economically, at least, this did not work out very well). The state had also been, up until 1991, fairly liberal on the subject of abortion. But that summer, Operation Rescue declared war on Wichita, home of Dr. George Tiller, in what they had the utter gall to call the "Summer of Mercy." Soon after, the state was a hotbed of anti-choice activism. In 2009, after years of harassment from Operation Rescue, Dr. George Tiller was assassinated by anti-choice terrorist Scott Roeder.
This is a Supreme Court decision rather than a decision made by the people of Kansas or their elected officials, so it's hard to say that this is a signal that the state is getting back to its roots. But it certainly does give them a better chance to turn that car back around, should they decide to do so.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse