NewsLocal News


How overturning Roe v. Wade could affect Missouri, Kansas

AP Poll Abortion
Posted at 6:38 AM, May 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 17:07:21-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Monday night, a draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court suggested the nation's highest court will overturn the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Overturning the landmark ruling could once again make abortion illegal in many U.S. states.

The report was published by Politico.

As the leaked opinion is a draft, it is unclear what the court's final ruling may be.

Roe v. Wade basics

So what is Roe v. Wade?

On its face, it's the case that determined a pregnant woman has the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

Norma McCorvey of Dallas County, Texas, sought a declaratory judgment marking Texas' criminal abortion statutes unconstitutional.

She became known as Jane Roe.

Roe was a single woman expecting a child and wanted a safe, clinical option to receive an abortion. She'd already had two children she'd given up for adoption because of her financial situation, and also did not have the money to travel to somewhere abortion was an option.

Texas law at the time made her decision illegal because her pregnancy was not life-threatening.

Two other parties followed Roe and filed suits, which all got combined into "Jane Roe, et al., Appellants, v. Henry Wade," Wade being the district attorney at the time.

The case was eventually elevated to the Supreme Court where the Texas statute was struck down. The opinion stated a woman's right to an abortion was protected by the right to privacy given in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

Roe v. Wade set the legal precedent, effectively legalizing abortion across the U.S.

McCorvey actually reversed her opinion later in life and in 2003 filed a motion to have Roe v. Wade overturned. That motion was dismissed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2004.

What changed?

Prior to the 1973 ruling, most states had legal restrictions on abortion. Some had to do with when in a pregnancy an abortion could take place, while some regulated abortion drugs and their distribution.

Hawaii was the first state to legalize abortion for its residents. That happened in 1970, around the time the Roe case was making its way through the courts.

New York, Alaska and Washington followed by the time the Supreme Court decision came down.

Since the ruling, many states have put laws in place to limit abortion rights without outright making the decision illegal.

One of the more famous pieces of legislation is Texas' "heartbeat bill" that bans abortions at around six weeks gestation. It became law in 2021 and started yet another round of legal battles.

Abortion in Missouri and Kansas

In 2019, Missouri passed a law that prohibits abortion after eight weeks of gestation unless there is a critical medical reason.

The legislation makes it a felony to perform non-emergent abortions after eight weeks.

The law is under legal challenge, but an overturn of Roe v. Wade would change the legal precedent and make the 2019 Missouri law enforceable.

Across the state line, things are drastically different.

Also in 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution protects a woman's right to abortion.

Because the ruling cites the state constitution, an overturn of Roe v. Wade would not change Kansans' right to abortion.

However, the Republican majority in Kansas proposed an anti-abortion amendment that will go before voters this August.

If a majority of voters approved the amendment to the state constitution, lawmakers would have the right to enact an abortion ban that could be enforced if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

So, despite abortion currently being legal in Kansas, that could change come August.

What our elected officials are saying

Unsurprisingly, despite the opinion being unofficial, politicians are weighing in.

President Joe Biden said he is disappointed in the potential ruling.

"I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned," Biden stated.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt called the draft opinion encouraging and said if Roe V. Wade is overturned, he is ready to take action.

“We’re encouraged by the draft opinion, and it is consistent with the briefs we’ve submitted to the United States Supreme Court calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned," Schmitt said. "If we’re successful and Roe v. Wade is overturned, I’m prepared to immediately issue the opinion that would protect the unborn in Missouri.”

Sen. Josh Hawley (R - Missouri) tweeted Monday that if true, "it’s a heck of an opinion. Voluminously researched, tightly argued, and morally powerful."

Sen. Roger Marshall (R - Kansas) blamed Democrats for the information leak.

“This is an egregious attack on the institution of the Supreme Court. For someone to leak this document and the press to be complicit in the leak undermines the legitimacy of the Supreme Court,” Marshall said in a statement. “But, we shouldn’t be surprised because that’s what Democrats do all of the time when they don’t like the outcome: They don’t like the outcome of votes in the Senate so they want to get rid of the filibuster; they don’t like the outcome of the balance of power in the Senate so they want to make Puerto Rico and D.C. states; they don’t like the way the elections go so they want to federalize them and deny states’ rights to run their own elections. All the while, the media is complicit – they help them do their bidding.”

Rep. Sharice Davids (D - Kansas) expressed her disagreement with the decision.

"If this opinion holds true, it will be a monumental step backwards. And when Kansas votes on a constitutional amendment in August, we will be the first state to decide if we agree that the government has control over women’s health care choices. I’ll tell you this: I don’t," she wrote on Twitter.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D - Missouri) reacted similarly.

“Today, tens of millions of Americans woke up to the realization that a constitutional right they’ve maintained for half a century may soon be stripped from them entirely, begging the question: what next?" he wrote. “If the Supreme Court ultimately makes the outrageous decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, setting women’s rights back nearly five decades, America will soon be less free, less safe, and extraordinarily more divided than at any point since Roe was first decided."

Rep. Billy Long (R - Missouri) issued a statement supporting a decision to overturn Roe.

“I was a senior in high school when Roe v. Wade was decided,” Congressman Long said. “I didn’t understand abortion then, and I don’t understand it now. Killing an innocent human life is simply incomprehensible to me. I am optimistic that these reports are true, and that the Supreme Court will do the right thing, finally overturning this travesty of a decision. I have always stood up for the Right to Life, and will continue to do so.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R - Kansas) issued a very similar statement.

Rep. Jake Laturner (R- Kansas) followed suit, calling the decision a "monumental win" if it holds true. He also said the information leak "threatens the integrity of the Supreme Court" and that those responsible should be held accountable.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R - Missouri), Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens — who are all running for U.S. Senate — expressed agreement with the leaked opinion and expressed pro-life viewpoints.

Rep. Tracey Mann (R- Kansas) said if Roe v. Wade is overturned he will "join in the celebration."

Democratic Senate candidate Trudy Busch Valentine held a different opinion from her Republican opponents.

"I remember when Roe passed. It’s heartbreaking that the Supreme Court is now on the brink of repealing it. We need to codify Roe at the federal level immediately," she wrote in a tweet.

Democratic Senate candidate Lucas Kunce echoed Busch Valentine but added that the filibuster needs to go in order to accomplish that goal.

"Get rid of the filibuster and protect Americans' right to an abortion. Not ready? Get the hell out of the way," he wrote on Twitter.

Locally, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas said his faith in the third branch of government is shaken.

"I am sad and I am concerned. Americans have long had faith in the third branch. It has been now been shaken by leaks and an even more troubling divorce from precedent and rights," he wrote on Twitter.