The Kansas Bill of Rights, Section 1, reads: “EQUAL RIGHTS. All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Despite what is written in the Constitution, six Kansas Supreme Court justices have determined that “Section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights affords protection of the right of personal autonomy, which includes 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 justices use the term “personal autonomy” 28 times in their decision. The Kansas Constitution and Bill of Rights use “personal autonomy” zero times.
The court declares that “When a statute is presumed constitutional, all doubts must be resolved in favor of its validity.”
The Kansas Legislature presumed the constitutionality of a statute to preclude dismemberment abortion.
Incredibly, the court then slapped down that presumption by rewriting Section 1 to decree personal autonomy.
The justices decided that “the (Kansas) Bill of Rights protects the basic liberties which inure to each person at birth.” The court gives no justification for specifying “at birth,” not at any time before birth. As if they were Roman emperors, they simply decreed it.
What gives six individuals the power, without legislative action, to decree when the right to life begins? That is judicial tyranny.
The fundamental issue of the ruling is “control of one’s own body.”
The court stated that one consideration in evaluating a law is “common sense.” Common sense and science tell us that a heartbeat is a sign of life, that brain waves are a sign of life, that feeling pain is a sign of life, that movement is a sign of life, that hiccups are a sign of life.
Science proves that an unborn child has DNA different from its mother. Ultrasounds show that the unborn child is a body separate from the mother.
But common sense and science have no place in the court’s determination that an unborn child can legally be ripped limb from limb one nanosecond prior to birth.
In 1891, the U.S. Supreme Court decreed that “no right is held more sacred … than the right of every individual to the possession and control of his own person.”
The Kansas Supreme Court has adopted that decree. Are they aware of Kansas laws with exceptions to control of one’s “own person?”
Kansas does not allow assisted suicide. A 1985 Kansas attorney general opinion said someone who attempts suicide can be taken into temporary custody. If someone saves someone from jumping off a bridge, will the savior be jailed for interfering with the person’s constitutional right to commit suicide? Why is Kansas spending $10.3 million to fight opioid addiction if someone has “the right … to the possession and control of his own person?”
In 1855, the Statutes of the Territory of Kansas enacted laws against abortion. The current court cavalierly dismissed those laws by claiming there was “no evidence that the legislation reflected the will of the people.”
The 1859 Wyandotte Convention specifically rejected a constitutional provision that granted control over one’s body to be a protected right. The current court decided that the provision was wrongly rejected because people have the right to control their own bodies. The illogic of that circular reasoning is astounding.
That is the height of arrogance. Delegates elected by Kansans voted for the 1859 Constitution which outlawed slavery. Did that provision not reflect the will of the people?
Six justices claim precedent lets them undo any legislative action of our elected officials by simply declaring there is no evidence that the act reflected the will of the people.
The court recognized the 1923 and 1972 cases which affirmed that people should be free from “unwarranted government intrusion so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child.” That recognition applied to each “individual, married or single.”
Really? When was the last time a court ruled that the father of a child has the right to have his child born when the mother wanted an abortion? Having a child is a natural right for all unless you are a father.
In Federalist 78, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.”
Hamilton was wrong. What we have in Kansas is what one Harvard Law School fellow described as an “imperial judiciary.”
Six emperors in black robes can do whatever they want.
Rich Kiper is a Leavenworth Times columnist.