Without comment, Gov. Sam Brownback has signed into law a bill that critics say will hurt women who get impregnated after being raped.
They criticized the House sponsor of the measure, Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane, for comments he made during debate, which opponents said trivialized the horror of rape.
“This attack on women’s rights has to stop,” Amber Versola, lobbyist for Kansas NOW, said Thursday.
Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican, has already signed into law several anti-abortion measures passed this year.
The measure he approved Wednesday prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans unless the procedure is necessary to save the woman’s life. Starting in July, individuals and employers who want abortion coverage would have to buy additional policies that cover only abortion.
In addition, the law also states that no state or federally administered health-insurance exchange in Kansas established under the federal health care overhaul law can offer coverage for abortions, other than to save a woman’s life.
The law’s supporters say it will protect employers who oppose abortion rights from having to pay for policies that cover the procedures.
Versola said women who become pregnant from rape or incest and who want an abortion won’t be able to get one unless they can afford the procedure themselves or have had purchased the additional insurance.
“Women cannot plan to be victims of rape and incest,” she said.
Kansas NOW and other groups also are criticizing comments by Rep. DeGraaf.
During debate on May 13, an opponent of the bill, Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, noted that abortions would not be covered for cases of rape and incest.
According to a report by The Associated Press, DeGraaf responded, “We do need to plan ahead, don’t we, in life?”
Bollier then asked, “And so, women need to plan ahead for issues that they have no control over with pregnancy?”
DeGraaf then said, “I have a spare tire in my car. I also have life insurance. I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for.”
Kansas NOW has put out this statement: “We have asked women across the nation to join us in telling Rep. DeGraaf that women are ‘Tired’ of legislators who trivialize the horrifying reality of rape.”
Group members say they will send DeGraaf a model-sized spare tire for every $5 donation it receives.
The Lawrence Journal-World on Thursday attempted to reach DeGraaf by telephone and email. He did not respond.
The anti-abortion language was added to a House-Senate conference committee bill that dealt with a number of other insurance regulatory changes. Opponents said legislators broke their rules to put it in the conference committee bill. The package was passed in the final minutes of the session.
Brownback, a Republican who took office in January, has signed into law several measures on abortion.
Those include a bill that tightens restrictions on late-term abortions and requires doctors to obtain written permission from parents before terminating minors’ pregnancies. He also approved a bill imposing new health and safety standards for abortion clinics, and he has pushed for a budget provision that diverts federal family planning funds away from Planned Parenthood clinics.