Government & Politics

New abortion rules in Kansas get initial approval in state House

The Kansas House gave initial approval Wednesday to a bill that would make doctors give more information to women at least a day before an abortion, including providing their credentials in 12-point Times New Roman font.

Lawmakers voted 85 to 38 to pass House Bill 2319, with a final House vote on the legislation expected this week.

Under the bill, patients would need to be given information that includes the year doctors received their medical degree, employment information, if they have malpractice insurance and whether they have had disciplinary action taken against them.

All that info would need to be given to patients on printed paper, in black ink, typed in 12-point Times New Roman font.

Lawmakers debated the font portion, but a Democratic effort to strike that portion of the bill failed.

Most of the debate centered on male legislators from both parties arguing whether it was necessary to impose the bill’s changes and whether it would help the health and choices of women in Kansas.

Rep. Eric Smith, a Burlington Republican, said the issue of abortion was “not just a woman’s issue.”

“If we were truthful with ourselves about what we’re talking about, we’re talking about a human life compared to an individual who doesn’t believe that it’s a human life,” Smith said.

The debate remained male dominated until Rep. Brandon Whipple, a Democrat from Wichita, asked for more female legislators to speak about the bill.

“I would love to hear a woman’s perspective about a medical procedure that affects women,” Whipple said.

Rep. Elizabeth Bishop, a Wichita Democrat, took lawmakers to task for working on the abortion bill while problems like a new tax plan and the passage of a new budget remain waiting.

“I recognize that this is regarded as a serious bill and a serious issue,” Bishop said. “I think the approach is non-serious.”

But Rep. Shelee Brim, a Shawnee Republican, said women need the information before making “a life-changing decision.”

“I just think once you are pregnant and you have that baby inside you, you’re speaking for that baby as well,” Brim said.

Organizations such as Kansans for Life have strongly supported the legislation, calling it a “needed update” to make more information available.

But Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider in Kansas and across the United States, has opposed the bill and said that it undermines patients’ confidence in abortion doctors.

Kansas law already calls for patients to be given the name of the doctor who will do the abortion a day before the procedure. The law also requires that patients be sent a description of the abortion method and the risks related to it.

A similar bill in the Senate has not been approved by the full chamber.

Hunter Woodall: 785-354-1388, @HunterMw