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Kan. House Passes Bill Banning Certain Abortions; Gov. Signature Expected

March 26, 2015 — The Kansas House on Wednesday voted 98-26 to approve a bill (SB 95) that would ban physicians from performing a certain abortion procedure, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.

The Kansas Senate last month voted to approve the bill. The measure now heads to Gov. Sam Brownback (R), who has indicated he will sign the measure.

If approved, the state will be the first in the nation to adopt such a ban (Hanna, AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/25).

Bill Details

Abortion-rights opponents say the bill, which was drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, would ban a method of abortion called dilation and extraction. According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the method accounted for 578 of the roughly 7,500 abortions performed in the state in 2013.

The measure would permit exceptions if continuing the pregnancy would result in the death or irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/11).

Physicians who violate the measure could face misdemeanor charges for a first offense and felony charges thereafter.

In considering the bill, the House rejected a proposed amendment that would have allowed physicians to perform the procedure before 24 weeks' gestation if the woman's membranes ruptured (Carpenter, Topeka Capital-Journal, 3/25).

Abortion-Rights Supporters Voice Concerns, Pledge Legal Action

Trust Women, a Kansas-based abortion-rights group, has said it will challenge the law in court. Trust Women CEO Julie Burkhart said, "Policymakers should be ashamed that they are putting women's lives at risk because they care more about politics than good health care."

Elise Higgins, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said her organization is also considering legal action (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/25). PPKMM CEO Laura McQuade noted, "This bill not only fails to improve women's health and safety but puts them in harm's way by denying doctors the ability to provide the safest care available for their patients."

Separately, state Rep. Steve Brunk (R), who supported the bill, said, "This bill has been written very, very carefully and has been thoroughly vetted by a number of different legal minds in order to make sure that it passed muster through the court" (Topeka Capital-Journal, 3/25). According to the AP/Bee, the state since January 2011 has spent about $1.2 million to defend antiabortion-rights laws (AP/Sacramento Bee, 3/25).