Once a center of antiabortion extremism, Kansas’s protections are now stronger than ever


Former Staff
Jul 2014
Julie Burkhart was in her early 20s when she responded to the person yelling at her as she walked into work. How could she ever take a job at a place like that? the woman wanted to know. Burkhart didn’t realize it then, but she’d have that same argument for decades. Those sweltering months would come to be known as the Summer of Mercy, when members of the bellicose antiabortion group Operation Rescue traveled to the Midwestern city in droves and swarmed abortion clinics. The next month and a half radically changed the politics of abortion in Kansas.

Nearly three decades later, Burkhart sat down at her desk in a women’s clinic not far from the place where she first encountered the antiabortion activists. On Friday, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s constitution fundamentally protects abortion rights.The news flashed across her screen, and her staff rushed in to read it with her. Kansans have “the ability 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 historic ruling, in many ways, can be traced back to the Summer of Mercy.“The protests are pretty much what got people out of the pews, into the streets and then into the political arena,” said Judy Thomas, a reporter who covered the story and now works at the Kansas City Star, in an interview with the podcast My Fellow Kansans. In their wake, Operation Rescue leaders left a network of right wing activists across the state, energized and ready to become politically engaged. Some argue that politicians elected in the years after that summer paved the way for the hyper-conservative Gov. Sam Brownback’s “real-live experiment” in red state governance.

The ruling struck down a 2015 law that sought to ban the most common second-trimester abortion procedure. It was one of many measures to restrict abortion in the state that Brownback signed into law during his tenure. Now, antiabortion activists fear the ruling could chip away at some of those legislative restrictions, including measures that require women to undergo an ultrasound and receive counseling before an abortion, and that require parental consent before a minor can have an abortion. This decision opens the door for new challenges to other harmful abortion restrictions in the state of Kansas,” said Elizabeth Nash, the senior state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, in a statement.


Kansas of all places. Good for the Supreme Court there. I'm sure many women in Kansas are breathing a sigh of relief, that the state government can interfere with their health care choices anymore. And good for the state for electing a women (d) governor as well,
Sep 2012
It won't stop the anti-abortion crowd who have been fed so much bullshit …

The 5 Most Persistent Anti-Choice Lies--and Why They're Wrong
Anti-abortion zealots are winning the war of words about abortion. As pro-choice advocates plead with people to see nuance, the far-right talks about murderers, a lucrative industry, and innocent babies. This allows them to set the terms of the debate, and to put pro-choice advocates on the defensive. Rather than claiming the moral high ground, pro-choicers say they want abortion to be rare, or agree that abortion is always a tragedy. It’s time for these five anti-abortion myths to die once and for all, and for those who support bodily autonomy to start loudly proclaiming the truth.
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Oct 2009
Kansas has two very good things going for it.

1) You can't change the state constitution except via supermajority legislative votes, confirmed via referendum.

2) Per the constitution, the Supreme Court, and all appeals judges, are named via a complex process that ultimately requires the governor to name one of three people who have been extensively vetted by legal professionals. The Senate can still block the governor's choice, but barring a major scandal, there's virtually no purpose in this, as the eventual nominee will be finalized in the same way.

A scandal (inspired by the man's politicized online statements) recently occurred with one appeals judge nominee, and now Senate President Susan Wagle wants to take Gov. Laura Kelly's power to name a new person away. This is highly illegal and it will fail, and is also pointless, but Wagle won't be around, she'll likely be in Congress. She has a reputation as an unscrupulous idiot.
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