The possible consequences of Roe decision for women, physicians and the rights of others
The U.S. Supreme Court's landmark opinion has created a flood of constitutional, legal and medical questions.
Kansans will be the first to vote on abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the state constitution protects the right to an abortion, but a vote on Aug. 2 could amend the state's constitution to say just the opposite.
Danielle Underwood, a spokesperson for the Value Them Both Coalition and director of communications for Kansans for Life said, “We are either going to say yes or no, and if you're in favor of unlimited abortion, and you're fine with abortion facilities with no inspection, sanitation and safety standards, that were struck down in 2021, that you would want to vote no.”
Underwood said abortions in Kansas are unlimited, performed at facilities without safety inspections, without parental consent and use taxpayer funded money.
- According to the 2021 Kansas Statestatute on abortion facility licensure, facilities are required to have at least two inspections per year conducted by the state.
- According to the 2021 Kansas Statestatute, minors must receive counseling and “a parent or guardian, or a person 21 or more years of age who is not associated with the abortion provider” must be involved in the process. Minors must provide written consent of parents. There are exceptions.
- According to the 2021 Kansasstatute, abortions performed at 22 weeks or after on a viable unborn child can occur only “to preserve the life of the pregnant woman” or prevent “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
- Kansas allows public funding of abortion "only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest" which is the federal standard and all that is allowed by the federal Hyde Amendment regarding the state use of federal Medicaid dollars.
The Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs set loose a wave of speculation and fear that additional civil rights will now come under the court's scrutiny and also be overturned.
Prof. Yvette Lindgren is a law professor at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. Among her areas of scholarship is reproductive rights and justice. She finds ignoring the precedents set by Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey "concerning on a number of grounds." Among those concerns is the patchwork of different laws this will create among states, the possibility for states to attempt to extend their laws beyond their borders, and the impact on women's health.
The majority of the justices joining in the decision were specific in their arguments that other civil rights granted in cases such as Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell would not be affected by this finding. Lindgren, however, notes that "constitutional scholars have all agreed that there is no way to square this court's opinion with the argument that we can't overturn any of those other cases."
Kansas Abortion Fund President Sandy Brown discussed how her organization facilitates abortion access for Kansas residents. The group supplies clinics with money for the procedure but cannot currently help with transportation or lodging costs. As surrounding states ban abortions after Roe v. Wade, their resources are stretched thin.
With varying abortion laws being enacted across the country, medical providers and medical students are in uncharted territory. Pamela Merritt, executive director of Medical Students For Choice, said Missouri medical schools are facing a crisis. Hospitals and providers must weigh whether to continue the curriculum as the antiabortion movement targets schools or remove the curriculum and risk losing accreditation.
- Danielle Underwood, director of communications, Kansans for Life
- Yvonne Lindgren, associate professor, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
- Sandy Brown, president, Kansas Abortion Fund
- Pamela Merritt, executive director, Medical Students For Choice