Anti-choice lawmakers in Kansas have “passed bills that set new licensing requirements for medical facilities that provide abortions; banned abortions after 21 weeks based on the disputed notion that fetuses can feel pain then; required minors seeking an abortion to obtain the notarized written consent of both parents or a legal guardian; restricted private insurance coverage for abortions; and redirected federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood to other health care agencies.” Now, conservative forces in the state are pushing two more restrictive abortion measures that seek to challenge Roe v. Wade:
A petition has begun circulating for Gov. Sam Brownback to convene a special session this fall to consider a so-called “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected.
Another group plans to introduce a bill calling for a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing the rights of personhood to every human being from the beginning of biological development, including fertilization.
Both measures would defy Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman’s right to have an abortion until the fetus would be viable outside the womb, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.
The Kansas City Star’s Fred Mann reports that both efforts stand little chance of passing, as anti-choice groups are still divided over strategy and see the bills as an overreach that could lead to setbacks in the courts. Personhood petitions, for instance, are now active in all 50 states, but no state has yet approved the measure. Proponents “were soundly defeated in Colorado twice, in 2008 and 2010” and the measure is up for a vote in November in Mississippi.
Still, the ongoing abortion wars will continue to undermine women’s reproductive health and tax the state’s economy. Already, as Kansas slashes spending, Attorney General Derek Schmidt has hired two law firms that will be paid up to $300 an hour to defend lawsuits brought by two Kansas City area abortion providers and another filed by Planned Parenthood challenging the state’s restrictive abortion licensing laws.