Kansas Legislature Votes to Further Restrict Abortion Rights

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.”

Photo of Gov. Sam Brownback courtesy of user Tom under Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Rockerbabe says:

    Sine 85% of all elective abortions are preformed before 12 weeks of pregnancy, women in general do not know what the gender of the embryo will be. So, as usual, this is a contrived excuse of harm women and deny them their human, civil and constitutional right to make their own decisions on healthcare, the risks they will endure and the direction of their lives. I just wonder, where in the hell are the women of Kansas?

  2. I have a question. I am an animal lover. If a pet horse or pet cow or pet cat has a difficult pregnancy, the Vet terminates the pregnancy. Sometimes they even kill the fetus as it is coming out of the mammal. Very sad, but better than having a dead mother. It just wasn’t meant to be. The general thinking is that it is more important to worry about the mammal that is already here than worry about the unborn. That’s just the thinking. So why isn’t it legal to terminate a very late pregnancy with women? Perhaps it is, but the term “stillbirth” is used rather than “abortion” or “termination.” This is a serious question. Is very late term abortion legal if mother’s health is in danger, but it is just called something else?

  3. I sure would like to know what motivates the war on women. A lot of theories out there. Conservatives tend to dislike chaos and want to see the world in black-and-white, with clear divisions, like male and female as completely different sorts of beings, with clear roles (male dominance and female submission). Also, a desire to control things – and limit chaos in that way. So, men controlling women’s bodies and men controlling the ability to create life.

    Also wonder if the whole anti-abortion and anti-gay thing fills a desire to feel superior on the part of these “values voters.” Fits with the notion that Christians are morally superior, the chosen ones, and being drawn to the notion of being chosen.

    I’m interested to hear others’ ideas on what’s up with the war on women.

    • Mar Iguana says:

      Without the unpaid/underpaid reproduction and productive labor of women, capitalism is not possible, it fails. Please research the work of Marilyn Waring. Read “Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body And Primitive Accumulation” by Silvia Federici.

      Let’s stop being distracted by every other ill and attack on women and focus on what is the arch enemy of women: capitalism. It’s wise to learn everything you can about your enemy. Por ejemplo, the royals, the budding bourgeoisie and The Church were having a hard time getting capitalism launched because of the resistance of women, leaders (and wise women and medicine women) of the commons, until they came up with The Inquisition, a very profitable enterprise.

      It is the likes of the Koch brothers, democracy-hating arch-capitalists with their ALEC, AFP and AUL organizations writing templates of anti-woman legislation, fanning/funding the useful idiot, religious wackaloons into frenzies, who have bought our politicians (AKA fascism), that must be defeated, or women will just continue to slip back into being chattel.
      Focus. Follow the money.

    • Georgia, men control Congress, most branches of the government, and most of the churches’ hierarchy. Given the patriarchal history of the world in general, it won’t surprise anyone that men resist any attempt at parity, especially when challenged by what they intrinsically view as an inferior gender. Recall that women didn’t get the vote until over 150 years after freed black MALES because men didn’t believe women had the intellectual horsepower to make rational decisions. Sadly, a lot of that prejudice remains, even in the face of more women enrolled as undergraduates in this country’s colleges and universities. If you look at a micrograph of the X and Y chromosomes, you will see the female X is vastly larger than the male Y, having over 1000 genes vs. a smattering from the X, most of which are associated with NASCAR, beer, and sex. Maybe that helps explain why we guys are so intimidated by competent women, and I wish I had an intelligent suggestion about how to fix it. Maybe a testosterone agonist?

  4. States are out doing each other in harming women. Come the next elections, heads are going to role.

  5. If, as the Kansas legislature has decreed, life begins at conception, then what of those 25-50% of pregnancies that end in spontaneous abortions? Given the philosophical and religious foundation of the new law, all those embryos and fetuses expelled as a result of natural processes should, at the very least, be given mini funerals, complete with a requiem mass. Or, heaven forfend, is one embryo more valuable than another? Maybe I missed something in the last election, but I thought the ideas and philosophies of the right-wing extremists were soundly rejected by the voters. Although Romney and Ryan claimed they didn’t get their message out effectively, the popular and electoral tallies demonstrate the fallacy of that position. Indeed, the certainly did, which is why they lost and why Kansas must still be counting votes.

  6. To me, this is just more evidence that some states are far more backward in their treatment of girls and women than others, and Kansas is only one of them. What I find so hard to believe is that so many women in these states are voting these regressive Republicans into office, thus voting against their own interests. Do conservative women really want to go back 150 years or more? That seems exactly where conservative guys want women to go.

  7. “I sure would like to know what motivates the war on women. A lot of theories out there.”
    — Georgia Platts, 4/12/13

    Georgia, to understand the war on women in the present, I think it is necessary to research the one which began in the past. That is exactly what I began doing about two or three years ago. Reading histories and biographies about that time in America’s history by feminist authors has given me a tremendous understanding of how hard our feminist foremothers had to fight to obtain the rights we have now.

    Which histories and biographies would be most helpful? Well, there are quite a few, but I would suggest beginning with biographies of both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. You could go to your local library and ask your librarian to do a search of books about these two extraordinary women, as I did. There is also an excellent DVD called “Not For Ourselves Alone,” which I ordered from the Susan B. Anthony house in Rochester, NY, and the book that goes with it. If you wanted a documentary that details the many struggles and setbacks the feminists and suffragists experienced before 1920, that is definitely the one to start with. Once you start researching, you may find it hard to stop. I’m still reading books on the beginnings of the Women’s Rights Movement in the 19th century, and the revival of it in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Gail Collins wrote an excellent book on that period, called “When Everything Changed,” which has been very helpful, and now I am reading Gloria Steinem’s book “Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions.” As you can probably tell, researching has been addictive for me. But hey, being “addicted” to getting knowledge of our own history can only be a good thing, right? 🙂

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