Last week, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) approved a package of stringent abortion restrictions, including a “personhood” clause that redefines life as beginning at fertilization — a so-called “trigger” that would effectively outlaw abortion in the state if the Supreme Court ever were to overturn Roe v. Wade. The new law also requires doctors to tell women about a scientifically disputed link between abortion and breast cancer, blocks tax breaks for abortion providers, and bans abortions solely based on the gender of the baby.
Now, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is warning lawmakers that his office will need significant funding to effectively defend those new abortion restrictions in court. Schmidt has requested a $500,000 increase to fund the legal battle. And that’s on top of the nearly $800,000 that Schmidt’s office already spent last year to defend the harsh anti-abortion laws that the state enacted in 2011 — which would push Kansas well over $1 million dollars in abortion-related legal fees over the past two years alone.
During this legislative session, anti-choice state legislators have made a particularly strong push to enact abortion restrictions that test the boundaries of Roe v. Wade. In Arkansas, Gov. Mike Beebe (D) vetoed an extreme 12-week abortion ban, explaining that the legislation “blatantly contradicts the United States Constitution” and he was wary to incite an expensive legal battle, but GOP lawmakers overrode him to enact the measure anyway. North Dakota approved an even stricter ban, cutting off abortion access after just six weeks, and are already preparing to spend $400,000 to defend it in court.
Kansas’ attorney general is also requesting additional funds to defend other controversial state laws, including a measure to require drug testing for some welfare recipients and a pro-gun law that stipulates the federal government has no power to regulate firearms. But he told lawmakers in a memo that he anticipates the abortion fight will be the most expensive.