TOPEKA — A divided Senate sent to the governor Tuesday a bill regulating the way information is printed for patients considering abortion.
The measure was approved 25-15 by the Senate following an hour-long debate. It was adopted by the House last week and now goes to Gov. Sam Brownback.
Sen. Robert Olson, R-Olathe, said the bill helps women make the right choice and an informed decision.
Others disagreed, calling the legislation harassment.
“I don’t like abortion, but this bill is just harassment,” said Sen. Lynn Rogers, D-Wichita.
The measure mandates physicians provide education and employment information, including any disciplinary actions, to clients at least 24 hours in advance of an abortion. It also specifies that information be printed in black ink with a specific font. House and Senate negotiators previously agreed to make one change — requiring that information be printed on white paper.
Sen. Dinah Sykes, R-Lenexa, who described herself as pro-life, asked Olson if the same informational requirements applied to other doctors such as cardiologists or orthopedic surgeons.
Olson said he wasn’t aware.
The bill should be sent back to committee to be expanded, Sykes said, to at minimum, also cover obstetrics and gynecology physicians.
Andover Republican Sen. Ty Masterson refuted the idea, saying the situation is different because a third person is involved and that consideration should be given to those contemplating an abortion and the fetus.
“That is why the information should be maximized to the person making the decision,” he said.
Taking it back to committee is an insincere and deceitful attempt to kill the bill, Sen. Steve Fitzgerald said, adding the measure makes information for the woman making the decision easy to read and understandable.
“I cannot believe that senators would want to oppose that,” the Leavenworth Republican said.
Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, recounted graphic reports of abortion procedures.
“They are in a very vulnerable state because the nature of abortion is ugly and it’s evil because it kills a human being,” she said of women undergoing the procedure.
Rogers and Sen. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, both said the Kansas Board of Healing Arts should handle provider information. Bollier said licensed medical providers already are required to submit information specified in the bill to the board.
“For any individual in the state to go and receive medical care in any capacity, is there any reason why they wouldn’t know this information already since the doctor is licensed to practice medicine in Kansas?” Bollier asked.
Olson said if patients did their research, they might have the information.
“If we have a problem with our Board of Healing Arts which oversees the practice of medicine in the state, we as senators are highly negligent and I am amazed we would spend time talking about font size rather than dealing with the health of patients in the state,” Bollier said.
Planned Parenthood condemned the bill’s passage.
“These deeply discriminatory regulations force doctors who provide abortions to meet a set of standards not required of any other physician providing health care in the state,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes President and CEO Laura McQuade said in a statement. “It is disgraceful how extreme legislators dominated this legislative session and focused on creating more barriers to health care at a time when increasing access to health care and better education is the will of the Kansans who elected these legislators.”