Kansas mulls new requirements for abortion providers

AP News
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Posted: Mar 29, 2017 7:41 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas already requires abortion providers to inform women about the risks involved in the procedure. Soon, it may also require them to tell women where the doctor performing an abortion went to medical school. In black, 12-point Times New Roman font, no less.

The Kansas House voted 85 to 38 on Wednesday to advance a bill that supporters and opponents believe is the first of its kind. It would require Kansas providers to give women printed information at least 24 hours before the procedure that includes credentials for the physician performing the abortion, the doctor's start date at the clinic, malpractice insurance, hospital privileges, state of residency and disciplinary record. It even specifies the font type, size and color in which it needs to be written.

State law already requires that women be given the name of their physician and information on the procedure's risks, age and characteristics of the fetus and information that could discourage women from having an abortion.

Abortion rights opponents say the new measure would give women information necessary to make an informed decision about whether to go through with the procedure.

Kathy Ostrowski, the legislative director for Kansans for Life, said women seeking abortions should be able to find out information, like whether the doctor has privileges at a hospital in the event that the woman experiences a complication with the abortion.

"It's up to the person, individual to weigh all the factors that are important or relevant to her decision," she said.

But abortion rights supporters say the bill is meant to discourage women from getting an abortion and that it treats abortion providers differently than other doctors. Planned Parenthood lobbyist Elise Higgins said the bill implies that women can't make their own decisions.

"This law is insulting and unnecessary," she said.

With a few exceptions, Kansas law doesn't require most other medical providers to detail the risks of a procedure in writing, said Kathleen Selzler Lippert, executive director of the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts, which licenses physicians. However, doctors are expected to make sure patients are informed about the risks and characteristics of a certain treatment before they agree, she said.

Ostrowski said abortion, by its nature, is different from other medical procedures and women shouldn't have to search for the information if they want it.

Kansas was also the first to institute a ban on a common second-trimester abortion procedure, which resulted in an ongoing legal challenge. In reviewing that case, the Kansas Supreme Court is considering whether state courts might invalidate regulations under the Kansas Constitution that have been or might be upheld by the federal courts.

Kansas has fewer than 10 physicians performing abortions for three providers.

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