TOPEKA — Two Republican U.S. senators and three GOP U.S. representatives from Kansas signed onto a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the landmark Roe. V. Wade abortion decision in a case emerging from Mississippi.
The Supreme Court justices are scheduled to hear argument this fall on constitutionality of pre-viability prohibitions on abortions, a question foundational to the framework of abortion rights in the United States. In Mississippi, an abortion clinic filed a lawsuit against the state challenging a law banning most abortions after 15 weeks pregnancy.
U.S. Sens. Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall along with U.S. Reps. Ron Estes, Tracey Mann and Jake LaTurner put their names to an amicus brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that defends Mississippi’s law. The outlier in Kansas was U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, a Democrat.
“The Supreme Court has the opportunity to faithfully interpret the Constitution and overturn a deadly precedent,” Moran said. “Mississippi’s bold stance to protect the lives of unborn children directly challenges the basis of Roe v. Wade, and I joined this brief to stand with them and the vulnerable unborn who cannot defend themselves.”
“America must continue to unapologetically stand for the sanctity of all human life,” LaTurner said. “We must reaffirm our commitment to defending the most vulnerable lives among us – the unborn. Pro-life Americans will not rest until innocent human life is protected from the abortion industry.”
The brief was endorsed by 189 members of the U.S. House and 44 members of the U.S. Senate, which echoed the call by Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch to do away with the constitutional right to abortion by abandoning the “egregiously wrong” Roe v. Wade decision. Mississippi’s lower courts blocked the state law because it was at odds with decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
“The Constitution’s text says nothing about abortion,” Fitch said. “Nothing in the Constitution’s structure implies a right to abortion or prohibits states from restricting it.”
The Kansas Republicans and their allies want the nation’s highest court to order enforcement of the 2018 Gestational Age Act of Mississippi, which cut off abortion after 15 weeks gestation except in instances of “severe fetal abnormality” or in cases of medical emergency. The U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority agreed to hear the case in May.
The Mississippi attorney general and the amicus brief signed by more than 230 members of Congress attacked justification for Roe v. Wade as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a decision of the Supreme Court nearly 30 years ago preventing states from adopting “undue” burdens on the right to abortion prior to viability of a fetus at about 23 or 24 weeks gestation.
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the federal Constitution protected a pregnant woman’s right to have an abortion. That decision intensified political, religious and moral debate and advocacy from both sides of the equation. But under the Mississippi case, supporters want the U.S. Supreme Court to return regulation of abortion to the states.
The Kansas Supreme Court in 2019 issued a decision declaring Kansas women had a fundamental right to abortion. In a case initiated by appeal of a state prohibition of a common second-trimester abortion method, the state Supreme Court affirmed abortion would remain legal in Kansas if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, said at that time she was pleased the Kansas court interpreted the state’s Bill of Rights in a manner that “conclusively respects and recognizes” the right to women to make medical decisions.
In response, the Kansas Legislature voted to place an amendment to the Kansas Constitution on statewide ballots in August 2022 that would essentially overturn the state Supreme Court.
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