Anti-choice legislation has been sweeping the nation this past month as states try to one-up each other’s restrictive policies on abortion. Shortly after Arkansas approved the most restrictive anti-abortion bill in the country, which bans abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy, North Dakota made abortion illegal from the moment doctors can detect a heartbeat (around six weeks with a transvaginal ultrasound).
Last Friday, Kansas joined the anti-abortion bandwagon with a bill declaring that life begins “at fertilization.” The statement is one of principle and not an outright ban, but its language better prepares the state to outlaw abortions should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Gov. Sam Brownback is expected to sign the bill into law, making the restrictions effective on July 1.
While this makes the measure unlike other states’ “personhood” bills (in which a fetus is considered a person), the measure does enact a series of other restrictions, including eliminating tax deductions on medical equipment for abortion providers. According to Kansas Senator Mary Pilcher-Cook, this means taxpayers won’t be funding abortions, however indirectly.
Women will also be encouraged to worry about unfounded health consequences of abortion, as the bill requires doctors to give unnecessarily detailed information to patients seeking abortions, such as telling them that there’s a link between abortion and breast cancer—which studies have shown to be false.
Furthermore, the bill bans sex-selective abortions—purportedly its primary concern. However, this is an invented problem, as there has yet to be any data showing that such a practice is frequent in Kansas (or any other U.S. state). After a failed attempt at amending the bill to protect abortion providers who might have been lied to by a patient about the reason for her seeking an abortion, Sen. David Haley concluded,
[The bill] is really not just about gender selection or the woman’s right to make that personal decision. It’s about really trying to trod on her constitutional right to make that choice.
Though not as restrictive as Arkansas’s or North Dakota’s measures, Kansas’s bill continues recent “war on women” trends in state legislation. “It’s the very definition of government intrusion in a women’s personal medical decisions,” says Rep. John Wilson, which makes the bill “about politics, not medicine.”