Gov. Sam Brownback wants the Republican-dominated Congress to pass a law mirroring a Kansas abortion restriction currently blocked under court order.
Brownback sent a letter to President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who previously worked for Brownback during his time in the U.S. Senate, urging them to defund Planned Parenthood and pass legislation restricting abortion.
Brownback has attempted to cut off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood in Kansas, an action that has been paused as a federal lawsuit remains pending. The Medicaid dollars Planned Parenthood receives pay for breast exams and other health services for women but do not pay directly for abortions.
“With the new administration in Washington and both houses of Congress controlled by pro-life majorities, we must grasp the opportunity to proclaim and protect the dignity of life,” Brownback writes in the letter.
Brownback also called on the Republican leaders to follow Kansas’ lead by outlawing dilation and evacuation abortions, a procedure commonly used in the second trimester, noting that Kansas was the first state to ban the procedure. It involves suction and the use of surgical tools to remove the fetus.
The Kansas law, which Brownback signed in 2015, was blocked by a Shawnee County judge before it ever took effect on the grounds that the Kansas Constitution guarantees a right to abortion. The Kansas Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in a split decision last year, and the matter remains pending before the Kansas Supreme Court.
A hearing in that case will take place on March 16.
Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, denounced Brownback’s letter in a statement, which came out the same day the Kansas Senate voted to roll back the governor’s signature tax policies.
“This is a repeated method used by Brownback to distract from serious budget issues in the state of Kansas. His failed leadership has resulted in a $1.1 billion deficit and a failing economy,” McQuade said in the statement. “The unconstitutional policies Governor Brownback mentioned have resulted in state spending of over $1.5 million in litigation, and the number of people accessing birth control, cancer screenings, STI tests, annual exams, and other care through the Title X program fell by more than 14,000.”