November 30, 2022

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The Legal System

Likely reversal of Roe v. Wade places Kansas election, Missouri law in spotlight

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) – What happens to Roe v. Wade will have a big impact on both Missouri and Kansas residents.

In Kansas, there’s a question on the August primary ballot that will become a much bigger deal.

In Missouri, a law will go into effect automatically that could restrict much more than what many people think of as abortion.

MISSOURI

Missouri lawmakers in 2019 created a so-called trigger law that goes into effect the moment Roe is overturned.

Yvonne Lindgren, a UMKC law school professor specializing in reproductive rights, said it would ban abortion at conception except if the mother is at risk of dying. She said the concept is known as fetal personhood, which would also outlaw some types of birth control and some common practices with in-vitro fertilization for women who want to get pregnant.

“Doctors will no longer be able to practice what is called selective reduction, which is essentially an abortion of some of the embryos in order to make sure that the other embryos can survive,” said Lindgren. “It will mean that couples will have to go through more rounds of IVF because they won’t be able to implant as many embryos at one time.”

Frozen embryos, she said, will need to be kept frozen in perpetuity. She noted several other states have failed to pass so-called fetal personhood laws because of the impact on IVF.

“The only jurisdiction right now that has fetal personhood is Alabama,” Lindgren said. “I have not read anything that said that Missouri legislators considered the impact on IVF of a law that defines personhood as occurring at the moment of conception, but it is an issue that has been percolating nationwide and creates lots of concerns.”

She said lawmakers might choose to modify the law to have an exception for IVF but, as it stands, that exception is not there.

On the topic of birth control, she said an abortion ban at conception would outlaw what’s commonly known as the morning-after pill, as well as IUDs. That’s because they prevent implantation of an egg rather than preventing ovulation. She said hormonal birth control, which prevents ovulation, would remain legal with such a law.

KANSAS

Abortion remains legal in Kansas, even protected by the state constitution, but that could soon change.

“The Supreme Court of Kansas has said that the state constitution of Kansas protects the right to have an abortion,” explained UMKC School of Law Professor Allen Rostron, who specializes in constitutional law.

When that state court ruling was issued, conservative lawmakers chose to let voters decide.

They placed a measure on the August primary ballot that would allow them to amend the state constitution. As Rostron sees it, the state’s constitutional protections are mostly symbolic with Roe’s protections in place.

“But now, if Roe v. Wade is overruled, then this vote becomes [more significant]. It’ll determine whether Kansas has the right to abortion or not, so it’s a much bigger deal,” said Rostron.

That election is on August 2.

A “yes” vote would amend the state constitution. That would allow lawmakers to have more leeway on enacting restrictions.

A “no” vote would maintain the legal ruling that the state constitution protects the right to an abortion.

The deadline to register is for that election is July 12.

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