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Kansas' Defense of Antiabortion Laws Tops $1M; Senate Bill Would Ban Surrogacy

Kansas' Defense of Antiabortion Laws Tops $1M; Senate Bill Would Ban Surrogacy

January 24, 2014 — Kansas has paid private law firms more than $1 million to defend antiabortion-rights laws enacted over the last three years, the AP/Kansas City Star reports.

The Associated Press requested and received the spending figures from Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's (R) office.

The total includes $179,000 in attorneys' fees and expenses associated with state and federal challenges to a 2013 Kansas law that blocks tax breaks for abortion providers and requires them to post certain information on their websites.

The state also paid a law firm to defend health and safety regulations from 2011 that only apply to abortion clinics. The firm also handled a lawsuit involving the state's 2011 restrictions on private insurance coverage for abortions, a case that the state has since won.

Another private law firm is handling a case before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that involves a 2011 state law. The law bars the state from distributing federal family planning funds to Planned Parenthood for non-abortion services.

Comments

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri President and CEO Peter Brownlie said that the funds could have been better used "addressing the real needs of Kansans for health care, education, [and] economic development."

State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg (R) defended the costs, saying, "When you do the right thing, it costs you money." He added, "What price tag do you put on saving lives?" (AP/Kansas City Star, 1/22).

Kan. Lawmaker Introduces Surrogacy Ban, Stages Live Ultrasounds

In related news, state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R) during a committee hearing on Wednesday introduced a bill that would ban surrogate pregnancies and led a demonstration in which two women received ultrasounds in front of lawmakers, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

Lawmakers who support abortion rights argued that Pilcher-Cook -- chair of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee -- was trying to play to her antiabortion-rights base and criticized her for inviting a crisis pregnancy center to perform the ultrasounds.

Pilcher-Cook did not provide details on the surrogacy bill but said it would mirror a Washington, D.C., law. However, she did not specify whether her bill would limit in-vitro fertilization, like the D.C. ban does (Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, 1/22).