Kan. House Advances Bill Increasing Refusal Protections for Health Care Providers

March 30, 2012 — The Kansas House on Thursday voted 95-29 to approve a bill (H Sub SB 62) that would allow health care providers to refuse to participate in abortion care, dispense drugs they believe could cause an abortion or refer for such services, the AP/Wichita Eagle reports.

Kansas law already states that no person or hospital is required to provide abortion care. The bill would expand the scope to include facilities other than hospitals (AP/Wichita Eagle, 3/29).

The House modified the Senate version of the bill so that the facilities would be protected from civil lawsuits filed by patients who are denied abortion, sterilization or access to medication, including emergency contraception, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal (Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, 3/28).

Opponents of the bill said its language stating that a provider could deny access to any drug he or she "reasonably believe[s]" could cause abortion means that pharmacists could refuse to dispense EC or other forms of birth control (Cooper, Kansas City Star, 3/28).

Sarah Gillooly, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, said people who testified in support of the bill "made it very clear that the purpose of this bill was to allow them to refuse to provide birth control." She noted that the provision allowing health care providers to refuse to refer patients elsewhere would most heavily impact rural women and women in small towns.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Lance Kinzer (R), said, "The bill's very clearly drafted to say that it only applies where there's a termination of pregnancy." He added, "I'm no medical expert and so I leave it to others to talk about which specific drugs are, in fact, abortion-inducing" (Kansas City Star, 3/28).