Gov. Brownback Signs Abortion Restriction Bills, Supports Allowing Politicians to Play Doctor in the Statehouse


American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri
Holly Weatherford 913.269.9181

The Kansas National Organization for Women
Elise Higgins

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri
Sheila Kostas 913.312.5100 x246

Published: 05.21.13| Updated: 06.24.13

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                   
April 19, 2013                                                     
Gov. Brownback Signs Abortion Restriction Bills, Supports Allowing Politicians to Play Doctor in the Statehouse
Overland Park, KS— Today, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed a 72-page Omnibus Abortion Restriction Bill, HB 2253, into law.  HB 2253 additionally includes the provisions from SB 141, a sex-selective abortion ban.  Last week, SB 142, “Let Doctors Lie,” was also signed by the Governor.  This wave of new restrictions signals that 2013 may be even worse than the record-breaking years of 2011 and 2012 for state legislation that limits access to women’s health care.  Together, Holly Weatherford of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, Elise Higgins of the Kansas National Organization for Women and Peter Brownlie of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri stand in opposition to the new anti-women’s health legislation.
“Clearly, both Governor Brownback and members of the Kansas Legislature feel the need to ‘play doctor’ in the Statehouse on the taxpayer dime.  Governor Brownback’s approval of this year’s abortion restriction legislation proves he and Kansas politicians put government intrusion above concern for the well-being of Kansas women and families.  The worst part is this terrifying trend might not stop: Troy Newman, an abortion opponent from Operation Rescue, said he thinks the Kansas law is “delightful” because it “opens up so many avenues” to block women from accessing abortion services,” said Holly Weatherford, American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri.
“Kansas women and their families should never have to worry about their doctor's political affiliation.  They should be able to trust that their doctor is giving them complete, accurate information about their pregnancy.  These overreaching bills damage the doctor-patient relationship and will have detrimental effects,” said Elise Higgins, Kansas National Organization for Women.
“These bills catapult Kansas into the ranks of states harshest on women’s health.  They will, among other things, force doctors to lie to patients, protect health care providers who knowingly withhold information from pregnant women about their health and pregnancy and re-victimize survivors of rape and incest.  The public does not support these extreme restrictions on access to health care and Kansans did not elect legislators to invade their private medical decisions,” said Peter Brownlie, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.  “Women don’t turn to politicians for advice about mammograms, prenatal care or cancer treatments.  Politicians should not be involved in a woman’s personal medical decisions about her pregnancy.  Let’s let real physicians practice medicine—not the ‘pretend doctors’ in the Statehouse,” concluded Brownlie.
Both bills, HB 2253 and SB 142 will go into effect July 2013.  Certain provisions in HB 2253, relating to the tax code, will not go into effect until January 1, 2014.

HB 2253, the Omnibus Abortion Restriction Bill, is a 72-page sweeping overhaul of the state’s abortion restriction statutes containing no fewer than 40 provisions.  Among many problematic provisions, the bill:

  • creates additional government regulations of and intrusion into the doctor/patient relationship;
  •  requires physicians to provide medically inaccurate information to women;
  •  effectively creates at least 12 new income and property taxes for Kansas families, many of which remain unclear;
  •  creates a tax penalty on Planned Parenthood and other charitable organizations while allowing no exceptions in the tax provisions for life, rape, incest or health of the woman; and
  •  bans abortions based on sex, a dangerous intrusion in the doctor-patient relationship by requiring doctors to become investigators and patients their suspects.  The world’s leading human rights organizations, including the World Health Organization, also point out that policies like this do not address the social, legal, economic, and political conditions that promote discrimination. 

SB 142, “Let Doctors Lie,” jeopardizes the doctor/patient relationship and incentivizes the omission of critical medical information from conversations between doctors and patients.  The bill:

  •  prohibits civil action for a claim of “wrongful birth;” and
  • allows medical practitioners to intentionally withhold information about serious genetic or congenital abnormalities from women in an attempt to influence their decision-making about their pregnancies.

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