Kan. Legislature To Consider Sweeping Antiabortion Bill

February 7, 2012 — Kansas lawmakers this week will consider a complex antiabortion-rights bill with provisions ranging from requiring that women receive warnings about the supposed risks of abortion care to changing medical malpractice and tax laws, the Huffington Post reports.

Some provisions are similar to laws in other states that have faced court challenges, including requirements that a woman listen to the fetal heartbeat before obtaining abortion care and receive a warning that abortion is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. Medical research has shown there is no link.

One of the most controversial provisions would bar a woman from filing a medical malpractice suit if a doctor withheld information about birth defects to prevent an abortion or if the woman suffers pregnancy-related health damage because the doctor withheld information from her to prevent an abortion. If the woman died, a wrongful death suit would be permitted.

According to the Huffington Post, the bill also would prohibit state residents from claiming tax deductions for health savings accounts used to purchase health insurance that covers abortion care. It would also prohibit abortion care after 20 weeks gestation.

A House committee will debate the bill on Wednesday, just six days after lawmakers were informed of its existence, the Huffington Post reports. The bill's opponents anticipate that it likely will pass the conservative-leaning House, and they think their best chance to defeat it would be in the more moderate Senate.

Sarah Gillooly, public affairs manager for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said women's health advocates are working to dissect the bill and determine a strategy to fight it. "This is the largest and most sweeping overhaul we've seen to date," Gillooly said (Celock, Huffington Post, 2/7).