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STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Kansas House Approves Bill That Includes Abortion-Related Provisions

STATE POLITICS & POLICY | Kansas House Approves Bill That Includes Abortion-Related Provisions
[March 19, 2008]

The Kansas House on Tuesday voted 84-40 to approve a bill (HB 2736) that includes a number of abortion-related provisions, the AP/Kansas City Star reports. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration (AP/Kansas City Star, 3/18).

Under the bill, women seeking abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy would have to be given information about no-cost counseling and no-cost prenatal services. Women would be given the option to see an ultrasound image and to ask the physician about the procedure at least 30 minutes before the abortion is performed. The Kansas State Board of Healing Arts would be required to revoke the medical licenses of physicians who break the law, and the measure would allow a district or county attorney, as well as the attorney general, to prosecute violations.

The bill would allow a group of 10 or more Kansans to sue the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and force it to provide information required by law on abortions performed after the 21st week of pregnancy. Lawmakers dropped a provision in the measure that would have required physicians who perform abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy to provide the state with information about the women undergoing the procedure (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 3/13).

The bill also would require doctors performing an abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy to give the woman copies of documents that state the reason for the abortion and whether it is required to prevent considerable and irreversible damage to a major bodily function. Under the law, minors seeking abortions would be required to provide identification and proof of state residency, the AP/Lawrence Journal-World reports. The person accompanying the minor also must provide identification, sign a statement about their relationship to the minor and identify the father of the fetus if possible, the AP/Journal-World reports. The bill also outlines the steps a minor must take to obtain a judicial waiver for an abortion.

In addition, the measure allows a woman who had an abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy, her husband if he is the father, or her parents if she is a minor, to sue for monetary damages if a physician violates the law, the AP/Journal-World reports (Manning, AP/Lawrence Journal-World, 3/18). The bill also would require clinics that provide abortions to post signs informing women that they cannot be forced into having the procedure, the Wichita Eagle reports.

The bill "addresses, in a moderate way, enforcement" of abortion, Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for the antiabortion group Kansans for Life, said (Koranda, Wichita Eagle, 3/18). "Many times, women don't know the justification for an abortion unless they seek their medical records," Kinzer said. He also said that many women are coerced by parents or others to seek an abortion, adding, "The time to ensure women in the state don't face coercive abortions is now."

Julie Burkhart, CEO of the abortion-rights group ProKanDo, said, "The intent [of the bill] is to restrict access, to block access, and it does nothing to protect the health, safety and well-being of women." Rep. Annie Kuether (D) said, "Why don't we leave what we have on the books, which is a very tight law?" Opponents of the bill unsuccessfully tried to return the measure to the Federal and State Affairs Committee and replace its language with a bill that is less restrictive. According to the health department, 11,221 abortions were performed in Kansas in 2006, 380 of which occurred after the 21st week of pregnancy (AP/Lawrence Journal-World, 3/18).