Abortion opponents push for smaller changes in Kansas after vote

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Seven months after a decisive statewide vote affirmed abortion rights in Kansas, the annual session of the Republican-controlled legislature is in some ways much like the previous one, with multiple anti-abortion proposals.

But the key players are focusing on incremental changes, rather than bans. Their biggest goal this year is to get more financial help for centers that discourage abortions while offering free pregnancy and post-pregnancy services. A donor income tax credit is one of three proposals that have gained popularity in the Republican-controlled state legislature. The other two deal with medical malpractice and remote abortion insurance.

While abortion opponents have dealt a number of blows — and soon an idea to try to pursue a 15-week ban — abortion rights supporters have argued that even the limited changes being pursued defy the will of voters.

“These extremist lawmakers think they know better than we do what our families need to stay safe and healthy,” said Ashley All, the chief spokesperson for the campaign against the August ballot measure that would have empowered lawmakers to strongly challenge the process. restrict or prohibit. an e-mail.

But opponents of abortion argue that voting does not preclude new restrictions.

“You don’t have a full understanding of what that vote said on Kansas because of the complexity behind it,” Wichita Senate President Ty Masterson, a Republican, told reporters. “So I just don’t agree that that’s the case, that it’s cuts against the tide of Kansas.”

Kansas voters were the first in the US to speak out on the abortion issue after the US Supreme Court rejected Roe v. Wade in June. They firmly rejected a proposal to add an amendment to the Kansas Constitution stating that it does not grant the right to an abortion.

That vote resets the national debate because the state is Republican-leaning and has elected strong anti-abortion legislative majorities since the 1991 “Summer of Mercy” protests outside a Wichita clinic, one of the few in the country known to allow abortions in performed in the third trimester.

The ballot measure was an attempt by abortion enemies to overturn a 2019 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court declaring access to abortion a matter of bodily autonomy and therefore a “fundamental” right under the United States’ Bill of Rights. stands.

Dinah Sykes, the Democratic leader of the Senate, from the Kansas City area, where the vote was particularly skewed in favor of abortion rights, said anti-abortion lawmakers are showing they still intend to try to ban all abortions.

“And they will do it piece by piece,” she said.

The proposed anti-abortion amendment specifically asked voters to empower “the people, through their elected state representatives and senators,” to “pass laws pertaining to abortion.” Everyone who campaigned against it said the answer was a “19 point clear” no, referring to the final margin.

Despite the vote, many state restrictions remain. Patients must wait 24 hours before having an abortion, and minors must have the written consent of a parent or guardian. Most abortions are prohibited after 22 weeks.

But other restrictions have been suspended, with two separate lawsuits before the Kansas Supreme Court banning the most common second-trimester abortion procedure and imposing special health and safety regulations specifically for abortion providers. A state law requiring the doctor to be in the same room as a patient taking their first dose of abortion medication has also been put on hold by state courts.

A bill passed by the Senate last week would require the doctor to be physically present to write a prescription for pregnancy-terminating pills — banning online or teleconferencing prescribing. Another would prevent abortion providers who can’t get their statutory malpractice insurance from the private market from turning to a state fund that provides it.

The proposed income tax credit is an effort to bolster the state’s over-50s network of centers that discourage women from having abortions through counseling or by offering free services, including pregnancy testing, sonograms and even housing. Arizona, Mississippi and Missouri have such credits, and Kansas’ is said to be worth $10 million a year to donors.

Proponents say the centers meet the financial needs of vulnerable women, girls and families. But opponents say they coerce women and provide inaccurate information – a claim the centers deny.

Jeanne Gawdun, a lobbyist for Kansans for Life, the state’s most politically influential anti-abortion group, said opponents of the August ballot measure assured voters that rejection would still put restrictions on abortion “because they knew for decades that Kansans supported reasonable rules. “

“There are things that can be assumed, but when they come up, suddenly, oh, well, ‘The mood, the mood, the mood,'” Gawdun said.


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