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Abortion-Rights Advocates Mull Legal Issues With Proposed Kan. Abortion Ban

Abortion-Rights Advocates Mull Legal Issues With Proposed Kan. Abortion Ban

February 18, 2015 — Abortion-rights advocates are examining legal issues surrounding Kansas antiabortion-rights legislation that gained approval from the state Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee last week, the AP/Idaho Statesman reports (Hanna, AP/Idaho Statesman, 2/12).

Bill Details

Abortion-rights opponents say the bill (SB 95), which was drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, would ban a method of abortion called dilation and extraction (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/26).

Abortion-rights advocates have said the procedure is the safest abortion method for women in certain circumstances, according to the AP/Statesman. Elise Higgins, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the measure would "substitut[e] the will of politicians for the expertise of doctors" (AP/Idaho Statesman, 2/12).

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) has said he would sign the measure (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/26).

Potential Legal Issues

The bill comes as part of Kansans for Life's strategy to restrict abortion through gradual changes that the group hopes will be upheld in court, according to the AP/Statesman.

Since January 2011, the state has spent about $1.2 million on outside legal assistance to defend antiabortion-rights measures, the AP/Statesman reports.

Attorneys from Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and the Trust Women Foundation are assessing the bill, according to Higgins and Trust Women co-founder Julie Burkhart. According to Burkhart, one potential legal issue with the measure is that it does not have a mental health exemption. Meanwhile, Kansans for Life Legislative Director Kathy Ostrowski said the group is confident that the law could withstand a legal challenge (AP/Idaho Statesman, 2/12).