Kansas Amendments to Statutes Regulating to Abortion (SB 54)
This law was last updated on Aug 19, 2014
SB 54 is the final version of two bills, SB 448 and HB 2508 drafted in response to lawsuits challenging sections of the 2013 omnibus bill, HB 2253. (See Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, Inc. v. Templeton and Hodes & Nauser MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt.)
This bill amends different statutes pertaining to abortion, and adds or revises certain definitions to make them consistent throughout all relevant statutes. The new definitions apply to provisions on licensing abortion facilities, medical emergencies involving abortion, abortions for minors, and abortions at facilities owned by the University of Kansas Hospital Authority.
SB 54 modifies the requirement in HB 2253 that abortion care providers post a link to the so-called “Woman’s Right to Know” website which contains misinformation about abortion including the medically inaccurate claim that abortion is linked to breast cancer. Though this bill removes the obligation to publish the misinformation, it eliminates the requirement that providers endorse the misinformation as “objective, nonjudgmental, scientifically accurate.”
This bill further limits the ability of physicians to provide lawful abortion by prohibiting them from considering mental or psychological harm as factors that could provide exceptions for an abortion after 20 weeks. This bill does this by creating a new, narrow definition of “bodily function,” which explicitly excludes mental and emotional functions. This ensures that in all the abortion laws that refer to the impairment of “bodily functions” as a legal exception to abortion after 20 weeks, there is no mistaking the possibility of damaging mental or emotional function as a legal reason for an emergency abortion.
In June 2013, as a result of the Center for Reproductive Rights lawsuit, the state court judge temporarily blocked the provisions of HB 2253 that would have made it nearly impossible for a woman to obtain an abortion in an emergency. (See Hodes & Nauser MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt.) HB 2253 redefined “medical emergency” in a way that would require many pregnant women in life-threatening situations to wait at least 24 hours before obtaining emergency abortion care or until the physicians satisfied varying obligations before commencing the abortion.
Drafted in response to the court injunction, SB 54 modifies the definition of “medical emergency.” Modifications include removing references to determining gestational age of a fetus; adding language regarding necessary delays to comply with applicable statutory requirements concerning abortion; eliminating references to the “best medical judgment” of the attending physician; changing the determination of when an emergency exists in order to conform with the new definition of “medical emergency.”
Despite maintaining the misinformation in the “Woman’s Right to Know” website and changing the definition of “bodily function” to prevent damaging mental and emotional health exceptions for abortions, the revised definition of “medical emergency” reduces the number of obstacles for women seeking medical emergency abortions.
This bill is still considered anti-choice, but lessens some of the detrimental effects of a very anti-choice omnibus bill.
SB 54 was drafted in response to lawsuits challenging sections of the 2013 omnibus bill, HB 2253 (See Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, Inc. v. Templeton and Hodes & Nauser MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt.)