Open Letter to the Kansas Office of the Repealer

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Commentary Law and Policy

Open Letter to the Kansas Office of the Repealer

Julie Burkhart

Governor Brownback  has established the Office of the Repealer to help rid Kansas of “unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, onerous or conflicting laws.” My organization was able to think of just a few recent laws that are extremely unreasonable, duplicative, and overly burdensome to hard-working women and families.

The wave of anti-choice legislation that has passed across the nation over the last several years has been particularly impactful in Kansas, where my organization, Trust Women, is fighting to provide access to comprehensive maternal and reproductive care. In a pretty incredible display of disconnect, Governor Brownback, whose government has established some of the most stringent anti-abortion laws in the nation, has established the Office of the Repealer to help rid the state of “unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, onerous or conflicting laws.”

My organization was able to think of just a few recent laws that are extremely unreasonable, overly burdensome to hard-working women and families, duplicative of already existing oppressive state or federal legislation, and in serious conflict with women’s ability to control their reproductive choices. This office has an opportunity to turn back the tide of anti-choice legislation set forth, not by the people of Kansas, but by our misguided elective representatives, who seem unable to trust women to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

We encourage every state government that has passed similar, coordinated attacks on women’s reproductive health care to do the same.

To the Office of the Repealer,

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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According to the state of Kansas, your office has been given the task of sorting through “unreasonable and burdensome laws,” in the interest of repealing as many as is needed to ensure that your citizens live peacefully and without undue government interference. We were told we should contact you in the event that we “believe that an unreasonable, unduly burdensome, duplicative, onerous or conflicting law, regulation or other governing instrument, detrimental to the economic well-being of Kansas, exists.” We do, in fact, believe that just such a burden has been levied on the women of the state, and we have a list of laws we would like to see repealed, effective immediately. We submit for your consideration:

65-6708, 65-6709 – “Woman’s Right to Know” Act, which subjects women who seek an abortion to an unnecessary waiting period and requires physicians to offer to show them a sonogram of the fetus, as well as to listen to the fetal heartbeat.

Since the recession, an estimated 73% of women having abortions are already raising children. This means more than half of the women seeking to terminate a pregnancy are already mothers. These women are well aware of what a sonogram looks like. There is no need to subject them to burdensome, time-consuming, not to mention costly measures designed to shame and guilt them. More than a “right” to information they do not want and did not ask for, women have a right to undergo a legal medical procedure without state morality police telling them what is right and wrong. In addition, the law requires the state to supply, for free, medically dubious literature for physicians to offer to their patients. Surely the state’s limited resources could be put to better use.

HB 2218 – 22 Week Ban on Abortion

This bill illegally undermined the Supreme Court Decision Roe v Wade by making abortions illegal in the state of Kansas at 22 weeks, with no exception for severe fetal abnormalities. This is extremely burdensome for women who find out late in the pregnancy that the fetus has no heart, or brain, and will not survive outside the womb, thus forcing them to carry a non-viable child to term and undergo the trauma of giving birth to a child that is already dead – forcing them to serve as living tombs, a circumstance that undoubtedly causes psychological as well as physical trauma. This law also places an extraordinary economic burden on the citizens of Kansas in several ways. First, these women will require medical care that would not be required if they were to be allowed to terminate the pregnancy. Second, because the law is unconstitutional given the Roe decision, the state will be called upon to defend it, and precious state resources, including both time and money, will be sucked up in an unnecessary legal battle, fighting to defend an indefensible law that places an enormous burden on the women of Kansas.

HB 2035 – Omnibus Abortion Restriction Bill

This Omnibus Abortion Restriction Bill is repetitive and unnecessary, creating double parental consent laws for minors. Studies indicate that the majority or minors who seek termination of pregnancy services do talk to at least one parent. This intrusion only pushes minors who feel that they cannot talk with both parents to discontinue communication with those family members with whom they feel safe. Why put our minors at risk? In addition, parts of the law open providers up to litigation, putting an unnecessary burden on the medical profession as well as the state courts.

H Sub SB 36 – Targeted Regulations against Abortion Providers

These laws are the epitome of unnecessary and burdensome, holding clinics where abortions are performed to more stringent regulations than some hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers in the same state. Abortions performed during the first trimester are significantly less likely to have complications than actually giving birth. The law briefly shut down (until there was an injunction filed) two of the three facilities where the women of Kansas go to receive abortion care. The ramifications of shutting down clinics puts the burden right back on women, requiring many patients to travel hundreds of miles and take additional time off from work. These laws require women to choose between feeding their families, keeping their job, and undergoing a legal medical procedure. The cost to women’s health and lives will become a burden on the state.

HB 2075 – Abortion Coverage Insurance Ban

Finally, the state has gone too far in interfering with what private insurers can and cannot cover for their patients. Nothing could be more intrusive than telling private companies what they can offer their customers. For a state government that has repeatedly refused to regulate corporations in order to best serve the interests of its citizens to then turn around and put burdensome, unnecessary, intrusive regulations on women’s health care is unconscionable.

We believe overturning these laws and regulations is well within the scope of your charge, and we hope you will do so immediately, for the sake of the health of every woman in the state of Kansas.

Trust Women

For more information on regional access to reproductive care in the Midwest and South, follow us on Twitter @TrustWomen.