Women would receive more information – in 12-point type – when they consider whether to have an abortion under a bill given early approval by the House on Wednesday.
Lawmakers voted 85-38 to advance the legislation to a final vote, which may come Thursday.
The bill would require that information be printed in black ink in 12-point Times New Roman font.
That information would include when doctors received their medical degrees, when they started working at a clinic, whether they have malpractice insurance, whether they have faced disciplinary action, whether they have clinical privileges in a nearby hospital and whether they live in Kansas.
Supporters say the requirements will provide additional information to women before they choose to receive an abortion. Opponents said the changes won’t provide any benefit to women’s health.
“If I were in a situation where I was a young person, or in a situation where I didn’t know what to do, I would want to know who’s going to be performing that type of procedure on me. I would want to know what their qualifications are,” Rep. Shelee Brim, R-Shawnee, said.
The approach taken in the bill isn’t serious, said Rep. Elizabeth Bishop, D-Wichita. Pressing issues before the Legislature, like taxes and the budget, remain unresolved, she said.
“I think it’s time we ended it and got down to the serious fixing (of) the state we were sent here to do,” Bishop said.
Kathy Ostrowski, a spokeswoman for the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, which sought the bill, said it was narrowly focused on information that every woman has a right to know.
“The content is giving a woman immediate access to information that may or may not be relevant to her decision-making,” Ostrowski said.
The bill is another state regulation designed to persuade women not to have abortions, said Elise Higgins, a spokeswoman with Planned Parenthood. Women are smart enough to make good decisions without politicians getting involved, she said.
“Overall, this bill is designed to call into question the safety of abortion, which is a very safe, highly regulated procedure, and the qualifications of the compassionate physicians who provide abortion care,” Higgins said.
Rep. John Wilson, D-Lawrence, who holds a degree in graphic design, brought an amendment to eliminate the font requirement. He said there was no need for the state to involve itself in the choice of fonts.
After his amendment failed, Wilson warned against the political effects of the legislation. He expressed concern that anti-abortion activists may seek to oust lawmakers like himself who voted against the bill – lawmakers, he said, who pursue policies that try to reduce unintended pregnancies and promote early childhood development.
“What we’ll see are postcards and mailers railing against any us of who vote against this bill,” Wilson said.
Rep. Brandon Whipple, D-Wichita, noted that few women had spoken during the debate and asked if female lawmakers would share their perspectives.
That drew a response from Rep. Eric Smith, R-Burlington. He said he understands the importance of women being involved in the conversation but that abortion represents more than that.
“But to intentionally try to make this a woman’s issue is an attempt to engage half of the argument. And that’s not fair. This is not just a woman’s issue,” Smith said.
If lawmakers are truthful with themselves, Smith said, they’re talking about “human life, compared to an individual who doesn’t believe it’s a human life. And that’s what it boils down to.”