TOPEKA — The GOP-dominated House overrode Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of three anti-abortion laws Wednesday over objections about state-mandated misinformation, alienating OB-GYN workers and ignoring the will of voters.
The Senate subsequently voted to override the governor’s veto of one of the bills, and was expected to attempt an override of the others.
Republican leaders have pursued anti-abortion legislation without regard for the 59-41 vote in August 2022 to reject a constitutional amendment stripping women of the right to terminate a pregnancy. Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed the bills passed by lawmakers before they adjourned earlier this month.
They include House Bill 2313, which requires medical care for babies “born alive,” House Bill 2325, which bans abortion providers from buying liability insurance from a state fund, and House Bill 2264, which requires physicians to give patients medically inaccurate information about the potential to reverse the abortion pill.
Rep. Susan Ruiz, a Shawnee Democrat, said she was insulted by the name of the reversal bill, which is known as the “Woman’s Right to Know Act.”
“Here’s what women really know: The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed bodily autonomy to women in Kansas, and this Legislature is trying to take it away,” Ruiz said.
The abortion pill, mifepristone, is used for about two-thirds of abortions in Kansas.
The legislation requires clinics, hospitals and pharmacies where the abortion pill is prescribed or dispensed to post a conspicuous sign that is clearly visible to patients with lettering at least 3/4 of an inch in boldfaced type that says it may be possible to reverse the intended effects of mifepristone. Physicians also must provide information about the reversal before administering the abortion pill.
Research supporting the claim that the abortion pill can be reversed by taking a another drug has been debunked. Other research has shown reversal attempts to be hazardous to women’s health.
“What I hear over and over and over and over from those of us who are not pro life, I hear, ‘Trust women. Trust women,’ ” said Rep. Clarke Sanders, a Salina Republican. “Do you really believe that? If you really believe ‘trust women,’ you’re going to vote to override this veto. Women have a right to know this. They can make a decision about whether or not they want to try to change the decision they made initially about having a chemical abortion.”
A veto override requires the support of two-thirds of the members of both chambers. Those thresholds are 84 votes in the House and 27 in the Senate.
The House overrode the veto of the abortion pill reversal and liability insurance bills on 84-40 votes, and overrode the veto of the “born alive” bill on an 87-37 vote. The Senate overrode the veto of the “born alive” bill on a 31-9 vote.
The “born alive” bill requires medical care for infants extracted from the mother with a beating heart or ability to breathe, under the false pretense that “failed abortions” are performed on infants that are capable of surviving. Kansas law bans abortion at 22 weeks from gestation, except to save the life of a mother.
Rep. Ron Bryce, a Republican physician from Coffeyville, said he personally provided aid to 27 babies who survived an abortion.
“We are moral people,” Bryce said. “We provide care for those who are weak, for those who are disadvantaged, for those who are innocent and powerless.”
The third piece of legislation bans abortion providers from obtaining liability insurance through the Health Care Stabilization Fund, which all physicians are required to contribute pay into. However, the bill allows “maternity centers” to have access to the fund.
“These bills are going to drive providers out of our state, and we already have a problem in rural Kansas,” said Rep. Melissa Oropeza, a Democrat from Kansas City. “This will continue to alienate new providers from coming into our state.”