top of page
  • Writer's pictureAllison Kite, Kansas Reflector

Kansas bill would require abortion seekers be asked for reasons before terminating pregnancy


Artwork featuring a uterus appears outside of the Planned Parenthood Great Plains office in Overland Park. (Rachel Mipro/Kansas Reflector)


By Allison Kite, Kansas Reflector


Kansas abortion providers would have to ask patients why they are terminating pregnancies under legislation critics argue represents an effort to “harass, intimidate and shame” abortion seekers.


A Kansas House committee heard Wednesday from anti-abortion groups — who argued collecting data on abortion patients would allow policymakers establish programs for those who are pregnant — and abortion-rights groups that questioned the motives behind the bill.


“If true choice is to truly exist, every woman should have the opportunity to examine all of her options,” said Mackenzie Haddix, spokeswoman for Kansans For Life, adding that “there’s real information that helps us gain a better understanding of why women are choosing abortion.”


The legislation, requested by Kansans for Life, would require providers have patients rank their top reasons for seeking an abortion, such as financial difficulty, a threat to their health posed by pregnancy, or the pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.


Providers would also have to collect demographic information, including age, race, marital status, state or country of residence, highest level of education, educational attainment, and whether the patient has reported domestic violence, has a safe place to live or received financial assistance from an organization that supports individuals during pregnancy. Even if a patient declined to answer why they sought the abortion, the provider would be required to record that and their demographic information.


The bill requires that the data be confidential and would apply even to minors.


“Kansans have made it abundantly clear that they do not want politicians in their exam rooms,” said Taylor Morton of Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, referencing Kansas voters’ overwhelming rejection in August 2022 of an amendment that would have removed the right to an abortion from the Kansas Constitution.


All the legislation would do, she said, is undermine the relationship between patients and health care providers. She said there’s “no reason for the state to demand and collect this deeply personal information from patients.”


“Patients seeking literally any other form of necessary health care are not and would never be subjected to such intrusive and personal questioning,” she said, “nor are pregnant people subjected to such questioning when they decide to carry a pregnancy to term.”


The legislation was met with skepticism from several lawmakers on the House Committee on Health and Human Services, including Rep. Nikki McDonald, D-Olathe, who told a proponent of the legislation from the Alliance Defending Freedom that, based on the name of her organization, she would “think that you would be opposed to forcing women to disclose information that’s private.”


The proponent, Erica Steinmiller-Perdomo, said the legislation “is rationally related to promoting Kansas’ state interests in public health and welfare” and that the organization supports “policies that promote maternal health and safety.”


McDonald took issue with Steinmiller-Perdomo’s comments, arguing she implied that abortion is unsafe.


“Abortion is a routine, safe medical procedure, and when you keep bringing up maternal health, I think that’s a little disingenuous,” McDonald said.


Rep. Stephanie Clayton, D-Overland Park, questioned how patients’ privacy could be protected if they reported being a victim of domestic violence or rape in a publicly released report. If a child seeks an abortion following a rape, she asked, and there aren’t many such incidents reported each year, could someone connect the dots and identify them?


“If someone is the victim of that terrible crime as a child, they should be able to go on, week therapy and heal and live a full, adult life without having their privacy invaded because they were the victim of a crime,” Clayton said.


Haddix couldn’t answer the question and asked to follow up with Clayton.


Amber Sellers, director of advocacy for Trust Women Foundation, argued the legislation would be unnecessarily burdensome.


Sellers said the right to an abortion required no more justification than the right to free speech.


“These questions are confusing, and they’re stigmatizing,” Sellers said. “They lack relevance, and they’re medically unnecessary. They’re deeply invasive.”


The committee’s chair, Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, argued collecting the information was important because a patient may seek an abortion “because she doesn’t know she has any other alternatives.”


Some patients “don’t think twice about that life,” Landwehr said. Others may be upset to learn later that there may have been another option.


Sellers said the lawmakers and advocates can’t speak to what brings someone in for an abortion “and we can’t make assumptions on what they do or don’t know.”


“I was one of those women,” Landwehr said, “and had I walked into that clinic and been given the information that there were alternatives, I would not have had my abortion. So I can speak to that.”


Landwehr said, if possible, she would ban abortion in any case except where the mother’s life is threatened or a pregnancy results from rape or incest.


Sellers countered that policymakers can’t speak to the motivations or knowledge of every abortion patient. She said care had changed considerably in the decades since Landwehr’s abortion. Providers now offer “holistic” and “comprehensive care.”


“We don’t know the thoughts of everyone,” Sellers said, “and we can’t make those assumptions for everyone.”


This article was reprinted with permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at www.kansasreflector.com.

18 views0 comments

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page