Kansas Poised to Join ‘Heartbeat’ Brigade

Now that the dam on unconstitutional first trimester abortion bills has broken, Kansas wants in on the action.

Now that the dam on unconstitutional first trimester abortion bills has broken, Kansas wants in on the action. Stethoscope and heap of paper via Shutterstock

As if 70 pages of anti-choice, anti-science regulations wasn’t enough, the Kansas legislature is now working to ban abortions at the point when an embryonic heartbeat can be detected. As such, Kansas’ 2013 legislative session is set to contend with North Dakota as the worst in the nation when it comes to abortion rights.

A so-called fetal heartbeat abortion ban was fast-tracked into a state house committee for debate earlier this week, touting 32 sponsors and the public support of local anti-choice terrorist group Operation Rescue. Despite the obvious unconstitutional nature of the ban, bill sponsor Rep. Pete DeGraaf (R-Mulvane) urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying, “I encourage you to not let fear of how this legislation might fare in the courts or fear of other pro-life organizations stop you. I also encourage you to not let personalities or politics keep good public policy from emerging from this state,” according to the Topeka Capitol Journal.

State Rep. Brett Hildabrand (R-Shawnee) told the Huffington Post that although the bill will have hearings, it will not move on to the full state house for a vote this year. But the bill still appears to be alive, concerning reproductive rights advocates in the state. The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri, the Kansas National Organization for Women, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, and Trust Women, which will be opening a new women’s health clinic and abortion provider in Wichita next week, released a joint public statement about what they worry could be a stealth statewide abortion ban of the type North Dakota recently signed into law.

“An unconstitutional, early abortion ban has been an embarrassment for North Dakota—politicians would be wrong to pass the same bill here in Kansas,” the groups said in their statement. “Kansas politicians are not doctors and they shouldn’t pretend to be while they’re in Topeka on the taxpayer’s dime. When politicians play doctor, they do nothing but hurt the health of Kansas women.”

The legislative session still has over a month before it adjourns. Over the coming weeks, we will see if the public hearing was just a formality, or if it was a sneak attack to end safe access to abortion in the state after all.