Kansas is quickly on its way to becoming the next North Dakota, as the state Senate advanced a stunning anti-abortion bill on Tuesday that had already passed in the House in early March.
The extremely restrictive bill not only defines life at fertilization (banning abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected), but also prevents abortion providers from providing human sexuality information to students in public schools, forces providers to tell those who dare seek the procedure that abortions cause breast cancer, gets rid of the exception that allows women to have a mid- or late-term abortion for mental health reasons, and denies women from being able to claim abortion medical expenses on their taxes.
All things considered, the bill is a terrifying combination of denying potential sexual health education to students, forcing women who would not be able to handle pregnancy to carry a fetus to term, and spouting falsehoods about the procedure's risks to those who would dare consider abortion at all.
Gov. Sam Brownback is poised to sign any anti-abortion legislation that ends up on his desk, and with the expected support from the Senate, this bill is all but passed already. The House is allowed to review the bill before it is sent to Brownback, but most believe this is simply a formality and that legislation will be finalized this week.
State Sen. David Haley, a staunch opponent of the bill, argued that Republicans are attempting to push "narrow Taliban-like philosophies on our state's persons," while mentioning that the reason he switched from being a Republican to a Democrat was that the former were trying to get too involved in people's personal lives.
He added that the bill could essentially tell sex abusers that they have the ability to stop a woman's decision to have an abortion. This drew criticism from State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, who accused Haley of saying that Republicans were trying to protect rapists and child abusers.
But as Kansas is one of the 31 states that allows a rapist to sue for custody of their victim's child, it seems they've done a good job of that already.
"We're going into a whole different realm," said State Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Republican who supports abortion rights. "It becomes a police state, where you're afraid."
Despite the bill's lengthy list of bans and restrictions, it seems that Kansas' abortion opponents also want to formally regulate related events that are already common.
House Judiciary Committee Charman Lance Kinzer, who is a leading anti-abortion lawmaker, acknowledged that several parts of the bill were items that Kansas has never had issues with. He said he doubts that health care providers would try to claim tax breaks for abortions, for example, and also admitted that abortion providers have not been known to provide sex education in schools in the first place.
But other abortion-related aspects of the bill, like the mental health ban and notification of the link to breast cancer, are downright insane. Mentally ill pregnant women are generally told to not take antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications during their pregnancies due to risk of birth defects. If a woman with mental health issues does get pregnant, then she will be forced to choose between putting herself at risk or putting the fetus at risk. And the so-called "link" between abortion and breast cancer has been debunked by none other than the American Cancer Society. How either of these facts could have been missed — or ignored — by so-called "pro-life" politicians is beyond belief.
Kansas, go ahead and join those states that, for whatever reason, value the interests and the life of a fetus over a pregnant woman. But by now you must know that challenging Roe v. Wade is not going to be an easy battle, and those in favor of maintaining a woman's right to choose will protest every sinking step you take with this horrifying law.