The nationwide war on a woman’s right to choose secured significant victories this week. Yesterday, Arizona became the first state in the nation to criminalize abortions based on a problem that doesn’t exist. Virginia will now force 80 percent of its clinics to close. Not to be outdone, the Kansas legislature swiftly approved not one, but two anti-abortion bills yesterday. HB 2218, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, strictly limits abortions after 22 weeks “based on disputed research that fetuses can feel pain at that point of development.” Though only 1.5 percent of abortions are performed after this period, the bill marks a significant victory for anti-choice activists who “have turned fetal pain into a new front in their battle to restrict or ban abortion.”
But not all Republicans bought the Republican argument that “this is a significant advancement” and “a more appropriate benchmark for late-term abortions.” “It’s based on false research,” said GOP Rep. Barbara Bollier who joined 8 other Republicans who voted against the bill:
“No one really knows and it’s based on false research,” said Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills. “It’s not universally held and I would be embarrassed to be a state that bases its laws on untruths.”
Bollier’s skepticism is shared by many in the medical profession. Though debate exists, a thorough review of the medical evidence in the Journal of the American Medical Association determined that “pain perception probably does not function before the third trimester.” Before then, “the fetus’s higher pain pathways are not yet fully developed and functional.”
But why worry about “untruths” when right-wing lawmakers can use “false research” to challenge Roe v. Wade? This bill, a twin of Nebraska’s “first in the nation” fetal pain law, challenges the ruling’s key viability standard — “the point at which the fetus can live outside the womb” — as the point when states can ban abortions. These laws could submit fetal pain as “a new dividing line at which abortions could be banned.” Nebraska’s law, enacted last year, has already had drastic consequences — just ask Danielle Deaver.
Kansas’s second anti-abortion bill, HB 2035, would require parental consent for anyone under 18 to have an abortion. Current law requires that one parent be notified, but neither parent can veto a daughter’s abortion. Unsatisfied with tightening parental control, the GOP included provisions that allow family members to sue doctors and force women to agree that they’re terminating a human being:
* Allow a woman’s close family members to sue if they believe an illegal abortion was performed.
* Require providers of abortions to provide patients with a newly revised informed consent statement including wording that abortion “terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
Both bills go directly to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Brownback, “who is pro-life, has promised to sign” the fetal pain measure into law. Florida, Arkansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky are mulling similar “fetal pain” bills.