Supreme Court’s abortion case draws political commentary, protesters to streets

U.S. senators see case as opportunity, picketers warn of eroding personal liberty

By: - December 1, 2021 3:03 pm
A group of abortion rights picketers stand along an Overland Park street Wednesday to mark oral argument by the U.S. Supreme Court on a case that could prompt overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision legalization abortion nationwide. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

A group of abortion rights picketers stand along an Overland Park street in December 2021 to mark oral argument by the U.S. Supreme Court on a case that could prompt overturning of the Roe v. Wade decision legalization abortion nationwide. (Tim Carpenter/Kansas Reflector)

OVERLAND PARK — Debbie Hadley helped organize a roadside protest Wednesday to coincide with argument in the U.S. Supreme Court of a case testing constitutionality of a Mississippi law prohibiting abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy and raising questions about the future of Roe v. Wade.

The location in front of a bland commercial building wasn’t random. It was outside office space thought to host the campaign of Amanda Adkins, the Republican preparing for a rematch next year with U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, a Democrat representing the 3rd District of Johnson and Wyandotte counties. Davids prevailed in 2020 against Adkins, winning that showdown by 10 points.

Hadley, a district organizing director with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the Supreme Court case made the issue of abortion relevant in the upcoming congressional contest. Adkins, who previously worked for GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, has embraced anti-abortion political views, while Davids has campaigned to retain a woman’s right to decide whether to carry a fetus to term.

“We are here in front of Amanda Adkins’ office on the day the Supreme Court is hearing the first real challenge to Roe versus Wade with a conservative majority on the bench,” Hadley said.

In the 2020 election, the Kansans for Life political action committee endorsed Adkins and said she was part of a “powerful pro-life congressional slate for voters to send to the U.S. House to stand against Nancy Pelosi and her pro-abortion agenda. We must send a clear message to the abortion industry that they are not welcome in Kansas.”

Kansas outlaws abortion after 22 weeks without an adequate exception to protect women’s health or for cases in which the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

The state’s two U.S. senators said the pending Supreme Court case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was an opportunity to right a wrong perpetrated in 1973 by the nation’s highest court and upheld by justices through a series of legal conflicts.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican, said during a speech on the Senate floor the case was the most significant on abortion in the past 30 years.

“This case provides the court the opportunity to relinquish the legislative power it has assumed and return it to the people and their representatives,” he said. “The court will be better for it, and so will our politics. And. most importantly of all, millions of future voices will get to have their say in the process, too.”

Roger Marshall, the state’s other Republican senator in Washington, D.C., said the Mississippi law linked to a 15-week deadline resonated with him. He’s a physician and recalled interacting with pregnant women at that juncture because, he said, a person could feel a fetus move in the womb and respond to voices.

“I struggle as I watch America being one of seven nations that allows abortion after 15 weeks,” Marshall said. “I struggle to think we live in a society that allows this barbaric treatment of the unborn. I’ve fought my whole life for moms and babies. And. I pledge I will keep fighting for them both.”

He said he would pray the Supreme Court delivered an opinion — likely sometime in 2022 — that upheld the Mississippi statute.

Cynthia Yin, of Overland Park, was among a dozen or so people holding signs on College Boulevard near the office where Adkins’ fledgling campaign was apparently headquartered. She was hoisting a paper proclamation that read: “If it’s not your body, it’s not your decision.”

“I believe it shouldn’t be a politician’s decision on something that affects the person with the pregnancy,” Yin said. “It’s a very personal, complex decision.”

In August, Kansans statewide will have an opportunity to vote on an abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution. The Kansas Legislature drafted the proposed amendment in an attempt to reverse a Kansas Supreme Court decision in 2019 declaring a right to bodily autonomy in the state’s Bill of Rights afforded women access to abortion services.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.