Kansas ‘Pro-Life’ Protections Act (HB 2253)
This law was last updated on Nov 17, 2016
HB 2253 is a 47-page omnibus abortion bill that contains multiple abortion restrictions:
(1) speech-and-display requirements that force physicians to provide false and misleading information about abortion to their patients and require abortion providers to hang signs displaying government messages in their offices;
(2) a sex-selective abortion ban;
(3) a ban on abortion when the fetus is viable;
(4) prohibits any state funds from being used to partially or fully fund an abortion or the operation of an abortion facility;
(5) imposes special tax liability on abortion patients, abortion providers, and others who facilitate access to abortion services, including employers who offer coverage for abortion in employee health benefit plans;
(6) denies protection for abortion providers (but not other health-care providers) against discrimination by state agencies;
(7) prohibits abortion providers from working or volunteering in public schools;
(8) prohibits abortions except in cases of medical emergency, from being performed in any medical facility, hospital, or clinic that is owned, leased, or operated by the University of Kansas Hospital Authority, which, as noted by the Center for Reproductive Rights, bans University of Kansas Medical School faculty members from performing abortions and from teaching medical students and residents how to perform abortions, even when on property not owned by the state;
(9) prohibits state health-care services and services performed by state health-care employees from including abortions.
The bill also includes “personhood” language giving constitutional rights to fetuses, fertilized eggs, and embryos. According to Parents Against Personhood, this bill “is unlikely to have any immediate ramifications on reproductive issues” because a separate Kansas statute (KSA § 65-6702) specifically declares in vitro fertilization and contraception lawful.
The bill declares that (1) the life of each human being begins at fertilization; (2) unborn children have interests in life, health, and well-being that should be protected; and (3) the parents of unborn children have protectable interests in the life, health, and well-being of the unborn children of such parents.
The bill further states that “On and after July 1, 2013, the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development, all the rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state, subject only to the constitution of the United States, and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court and specific provisions to the contrary in the Kansas constitution and the Kansas Statutes Annotated.”
“Viable Fetus” Abortion Ban
HB 2253 prohibits a physician from performing or inducing, or attempting to perform or induce, an abortion if the fetus is considered to be “viable,” unless the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the woman or a continuation of the pregnancy will cause the woman “substantial” and irreversible physical impairment to a major bodily function.
Sex-Selective Abortion Ban
HB 2253 prohibits a person from performing or attempting to perform an abortion with knowledge that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely on account of the fetus. A pregnant woman may not be prosecuted under the law or for conspiracy to violate the law.
Sex-selection abortions are not a widespread problem in the United States. However, anti-choice activists cite three studies documenting the use of sex-selection abortion primarily among a small number of immigrant women. The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum notes that a ban similar to the Kansas ban “targets and thus limits reproductive health access for Asian American & Pacific Islander women, who anti-choicers say are the ones guilty of this abortion practice. We know the real solution to ending the preference for sons in some families is getting to the root of the problem: gender inequity. If lawmakers truly want to help us, we call on them to promote equal pay, access to education, health equity, and ending violence against women.”
HB 2253 prohibits an individual from deducting the cost of an abortion as a medical expense, prohibits an individual from claiming any tax credits for abortion procedures, and levies a sales tax on abortion procedures including those performed as a result of rape or incest.
HB 2253 amends Kansas’ existing informed consent law (Kan. Stat. Ann. § 65-6709) to require a physician to inform a woman seeking an abortion of: (1) the risk of premature birth in future pregnancies; (2) the risk of breast cancer associated with the abortion method; and (3) the pain threshold of a fetus 20 weeks after fertilization. None of this newly-required information is supported by science or medical research.
In particular, an increase in risk of breast cancer is not supported by medical research. In fact, a new study confirms that there is no causative link between abortion and breast cancer.
The law also requires abortion providers’ websites to link to the Department of Health and Environment’s website, which contains “informed consent” information required by the Kansas Woman’s Right to Know Act. Much of the information on the state website is disputed and not supported by science or medical research.
The law prohibits the state from discriminating against any individual or institutional health care entity on the basis that such health care entity does not provide, pay for or refer for abortions.
Two lawsuits were filed challenging portions of HB 2253. (See Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, Inc. v. Templeton and Hodes & Nauser MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt.) Neither of the lawsuits challenged the “personhood” language in HB 2253, which, under the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Webster v. Reproductive Services, is likely constitutional since the bill expressly states that the bill is subject to the Constitution of United States and decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.