Is Spousal Notification Going to Be an Anti-Choice Issue in 2013?

A group is eager to endorse candidates in Kansas who support spousal notification and "home-abortion-kit" bans. But are they looking to start a national movement?

KS Gov. Brownback is on record with NPLA in 2008 saying he would support a spousal-consent law. Photo: Examiner.com.

As a political organization, National Pro-Life Alliance (NPLA) doesn’t have the name recognition of National Right to Life, Personhood USA, Americans United For Life, or the Susan B. Anthony List. Its expenditures and donations are modest. According to Open Secrets, the website for the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, NPLA received less than $15,000 from individual donors giving more than $200 in 2010. Most of these funds are doled out to a who’s who of anti-choice candidates for federal office, and to political-action groups that support Arizona’s Trent Franks, Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Sean Duffy, Florida’s Daniel Webster, Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann, and Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania, best known for the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the Affordable Care Act. In this cycle, only a handful of candidates for federal office are getting support, and donations from NPLA are modest.

But NPLA appears to be laying the groundwork for political action that goes beyond funding. John Celock, a reporter covering Kansas for Huffington Post, uncovered a sample NPLA questionnaire that was being sent to candidates in the state in order for them to receive an endorsement from the group. Included on the questionnaire were the standard questions, such as “Do you support a 24-hour ‘cooling off period?,’ as well as questions about ultrasound, parental notification, and life at conception. More radical questions included, “Will you vote to bar the distribution of ‘home abortion kits’ like RU-486?” and “Will you support legislation giving spouses the right to be notified and [to] intervene before an abortion is performed on the couple’s baby?”

These questions were also asked by the group in 2008, as part of its pre-primary presidential candidate questionnaire. Many potential candidates, including all Democrats, ignored the survey. A few Republican candidates did answer the questionnaire, and said that they supported every measure on the list. Those candidates included Tom Tancredo of Colorado, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and Sam Brownback, who is now the governor of Kansas.

Brownback is on record with NPLA in 2008 as saying he would support a spousal-consent law, based on the group’s scorecard. In this cycle the organization is questioning local candidates to see if they support the idea of spousal consent. Could it be that a spousal-consent bill may be in the works for the state in 2013?

Although many issues listed on the questionnaire—including those about life at conception, RU-486 bans, and parental notification—are highlighted as platforms on the NPLA website, the one regarding spousal notification is conspicuously absent. I contacted the group to ask why it was not included and to find out if spousal notification was a focus nationally, or just in Kansas. I was told someone would get back to me. The following day I was told no one was available to comment at this time.