Anti-Choice Omnibus Bill Passes House in Kansas

Every effort to make the bill less harmful, including an attempt to allow abortions after 22 weeks for victims of sexual assault, was rejected.

Kansas state capitol
A fight in Kansas over the future of the state judicial system shows anti-abortion conservatives want control at every level of government and will stop at nothing to get it. Kansas State Capitol via Shutterstock

The Kansas House of Representatives has taken the next step in passing HB 2253, a massive 70-page omnibus bill that codifies anti-choice lies and talking points and financially and politically isolates reproductive health clinics, abortion providers, and their volunteers in the state. The bill represents the state legislature’s latest attempt to pass a multipurpose, anti-choice platform, which includes modifying the state tax code, defunding Planned Parenthood, and socially ostracizing abortion providers and their colleagues. Unlike last year’s version, this year’s version of the bill appears likely to pass both chambers of the legislature.

Proposed by State Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe), the omnibus bill presents anti-choice lies as science and revamps the state’s tax code to eliminate “taxpayer funding of abortion,” despite the protests of individuals in the medical community who consider the legislation politically motivated propaganda. Leading the charge against the bill at a recent hearing was State Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills), a former medical professional who tried to negate the bad science in the bill with amendments addressing claims that a fetus feels pain at 22 weeks and that abortion causes breast cancer. Meanwhile, Kinzer testified that there are “conflicting” studies about abortion causing breast cancer, and “where there is doubt or conflicting studies, the Legislature has the authority to decide what information should be distributed by law,” according to the Topeka Capital Journal. If upheld, this would set a chilling precedent, essentially dividing the country into states where science is respected and states where anti-choice “science” rules.

The house also opposed an amendment to a ban on abortions after 22 weeks. When asked to consider allowing exceptions to the state’s blanket 22-week abortion ban—loopholes that would allow a rape or incest survivor to obtain a safe abortion without leaving the state—lawmakers said absolutely not. A Kansas City Star editorial called the rejection of the amendment “a shocking lack of empathy for women.” The editorial goes on to say, “In testimony to the triumph of zealotry, the house voted 92-31 for the abortion restrictions. We hope the Senate will show some compassion for young women facing the anguish of an unwanted, late-term pregnancy.”

“Representative Lance Kinzer and Governor Brownback have reached a new low with the passage and certain signature of House Bill 2253,” Elise Higgins, state co-coordinator for Kansas NOW told Rewire via email. “This 70-page bill has 40 provisions, ranging from restrictions on who can work in schools and 12 new taxes on abortion to a lie connecting abortion to breast cancer. HB 2253 would be harmful on its own, but on top of 20 other abortion regulations in Kansas, it’s devastating. Worst of all is the Kansas house’s overwhelming rejection of an amendment that would have exempted pregnancies resulting from rape and incest from anti-abortion statutes. Kansas government is without compassion or common sense, and women and their families will suffer for it.”

The bill will next head to the state senate.