Kan. House Approves Sweeping Antiabortion Bill, Rejects Proposal To Add Exceptions Late in Pregnancy

March 20, 2013 — The Kansas House on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a broad antiabortion-rights bill (HB 2253) with several provisions aimed at restricting access to the procedure and penalizing entities associated with abortion providers, the AP/Olathe News reports. The House is expected to give the measure final approval on Wednesday and send it to the Senate (AP/Olathe News, 3/20).

The bill would define life as beginning at fertilization and mandate that physicians tell women seeking abortions that the procedure carries certain risks, including the inaccurate claim that an abortion raises a woman's chance of developing breast cancer (Celock, Huffington Post, 3/19).

The bill also would prohibit abortion providers from receiving tax breaks and strengthen a law barring medical residents at the state's medical school from participating in abortion care on state time. In addition, the bill would prevent groups that offer abortions from providing sex education or sex ed materials for public schools (AP/Olathe News, 3/20).

The legislation is expected to pass the Republican-controlled Senate. It would then proceed to Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has pledged to approve any antiabortion-rights bills that reach his desk, according to the Huffington Post (Huffington Post, 3/19).

Lawmakers Reject Proposed Exceptions for Late Abortions

House lawmakers voted 90-31 against an amendment (H 1547) that would have revised a state law that bans abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy unless the procedure is needed to save a woman's life or avert serious, irreversible harm to her health.

The amendment, offered by state Rep. John Wilson (D), would have added exceptions to the ban if a pregnancy results from rape, incest or sexual abuse of a child (AP/Kansas City Star, 3/19). The proposal also would have applied the exception to laws that restrict private health coverage of abortions and a state parental notification requirement (AP/Olathe News, 3/20).

Elise Higgins, a lobbyist for the Kansas National Organization for Women, said she was "extremely disappointed and saddened" by lawmakers' rejection of the amendment. "We know that people who survive rape and incest often don't know they are pregnant immediately or wait to deal with pregnancy until later, due to the shame of the crime and the social stigma," she added.

Lawmakers Maintain Warning of Abortion, Breast Cancer Link

Lawmakers also rejected an amendment (H 1546) that would have removed the requirement that doctors tell women seeking abortions that the procedure is linked to breast cancer (Huffington Post, 3/19).

Scientists convened by the National Cancer Institute concluded in 2003 that there is no such link (AP/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/19).

State Rep. Barbara Bollier (R), a retired physician who offered the amendment, said, "I used to believe that the legislature used to not be given the facts," adding, "Now I know they got the facts, but they ignored them" (Huffington Post, 3/19).