Abortion-Rights Opponents in Kan. at Odds Over Legislative Priorities

February 14, 2012 — Kansas House Judiciary Committee Chair Lance Kinzer (R) does not plan to hold a hearing on a "personhood" bill (HCR 5029), a decision that is fueling a rift between abortion-rights opponents over the best strategy for restricting the procedure, the AP/Kansas City Star reports (Hanna, AP/Kansas City Star, 2/10). Supporters of personhood measures seek to outlaw abortion by defining fertilized eggs as people with constitutional rights (Women's Health Policy Report, 11/22/11).

HCR 5029 is being pushed by the Personhood Kansas Committee and has 25 co-sponsors in the House. Both the House and the Senate would need to approve the measure by two-third majorities for it to be placed on the statewide ballot in August.

More Extensive Bill Prioritized

Kinzer is the chief sponsor of a sweeping 68-page bill (HB 2598) that would impose numerous new restrictions on abortion providers and patients. He said his bill -- which would need approval of simple majorities in both chambers to head to the governor -- is a better approach than the personhood measure, which he does not think can withstand a court challenge (Hanna, AP/Kansas City Star, 2/10).

HB 2598 would require doctors to notify women of supposed risks of abortion, tell women that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation and play audio of the fetal heartbeat for the woman to hear. The bill also would outlaw sex-selective abortion and ban tax credits and exemptions for abortion-related expenses and insurance coverage, as well as bar groups that provide abortion care from providing materials for sex education classes in schools (Cooper, Kansas City Star, 2/10).

The House Federal and State Committee could vote on HB 2598 this week (AP/Kansas City Star, 2/10).