It’s difficult to gauge whether the anti-abortion bill up before the Kansas House today is more notable for its cruelty or for its ignorance.
House Bill 2253 would prevent almost all abortions after 22 weeks, even if a pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.
In debate on Tuesday, lawmakers glibly surmised that women surely know they are pregnant in the first trimester. But that’s not a given at all. A child or a young teenager who is the victim of rape or incest may not understand, or acknowledge, the physical changes resulting from a pregnancy until that pregnancy is well underway. Someone in that situation should have the option of terminating a late-term pregnancy. This is a case of legislators imposing their will and beliefs on people in the most dire of situations.
House Bill 2253 would require doctors to tell patients that abortion may increase the risk of breast cancer. This is false. An abortion-breast cancer link — basically wishful thinking on the part of anti-abortion crusaders — has been thoroughly debunked by large, reliable studies. Here’s a comprehensive look at the issue by Slate, which notes that “the most recent edition of Principles and Practice of Oncology, the “bible” of cancer medicine, does not list abortion as a risk factor. Still, anti-abortion groups press the association.”
Kansas Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican who is the driver of most of the Legislature’s anti-abortion legislation, actually said on the House floor that the Legislature has the authority to tell doctors what to tell patients, even if the face of doubt or conflicting studies.
What preposterous thinking. What gives Kinzer the idea that politicians have a right to order physicians to perpetuate bad science and a trumped-up scare tactic? And why would a talented young doctor want to practice in a state that requires such a thing? Kansas, lest we forget, has a shortage of physicians.
During the debate Tuesday, Barbara Bollier, a Republican from Mission Hills who is a retired anesthesiologist, proposed an amendment to remove language in the bill about a fetus failing pain at 22 weeks.
“I would like us to consider, reasonably, passing one amendment that supports science in this building,” she said.
Not a chance. Bollier’s amendment was shouted down on a voice vote.
The House approved the 90 to 31 on a preliminary vote, and will almost surely pass it on a second vote today. Prospects of the 70-page bill being stopped in the newly conservative Senate appear dim as well. The best that can be hoped is that Senators will show some compassion for young women facing the anguish of an unwanted, late-term pregnancy, and that they might foresee the negative consequences of requiring doctors to tell patients a falsehood.