Topeka Kansas lawmakers are considering another bill this year to impose more disclosure requirements on abortion providers, even as other abortion-related statutes are under challenge in Kansas courts.
The House Federal and State Affairs Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would add requirements under the Women's Right to Know Act for abortion providers to disclose information about their medical licenses, including information about any disciplinary actions taken against them by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
It even goes so far as to specify that the information must be printed on white paper, in 12-point Times New Roman font.
Under the original Women's Right to Know Act, passed in 1997, women were required to give "informed consent" before any non-emergency abortion could be performed.
That means at least 24 hours before the procedure, the doctor referring the woman for an abortion had to provide the woman with certain information, including the name of the doctor who would perform the procedure, the gestational age of the fetus and a list of agencies that provide alternatives to abortion.
But Kathy Ostrowski, a lobbyist for Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion organization, said in recent years, clinics have found ways to get around that law.
"Abortion transactions today are contracted online, and with some phone calls," she said, adding that women can now download a consent form online from the website of a clinic that posts information about all its physicians, without necessarily identifying which physician will perform the procedure.
But Elise Higgins, who lobbies for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said passage of the bill would do nothing to improve the health or safety of women.
"It's designed to undermine confidence in qualified physicians who provide abortions," she said.
Higgins also noted that another statute Kansas enacted in 2011 imposing licensing requirements and other regulations on abortion clinics was blocked, for the time being, in state court.
A bill identical to the one in the House committee has already passed out of a Senate committee and is awaiting final action by the full Senate.
Meanwhile, the Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday in a lawsuit that could significantly impact women's access to abortion in Kansas.
That case challenges a 2015 law that bans a procedure known as dilation and evacuation, or D&E;, which is described in the statute as "dismemberment abortion."
Plaintiffs in that case are asking the court to declare that the Kansas Constitution guarantees the same right of privacy found in the U.S. Constitution, and thus provides the same constitutional right to abortion.