I represent an organization that advocates for women. Its mission encompasses a broad expanse of issues linked to equality and justice.
In Kansas, equality of opportunity and social supports are being eliminated through a multitude of administrative and legislative maneuverings and measures. The vast array and sheer volume of the changes that are being attempted and implemented in this state could make it difficult to prioritize where time, energy and resources of a small nonprofit should be spent.
However, as my organization looks ahead to 2012, we don’t need a crystal ball to tell us where a great deal of our time, energy and resources will be spent. My organization stands in support of women’s reproductive rights, which means much of our prioritizing will be done for us. The 2012 Kansas Legislature no doubt will introduce another slew of abortion restrictions.
As I mentioned, a piece of our organizational mission is advancing reproductive freedom. These days, it’s not so much advancing as it is defending.
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Right now we are defending something that barely exists within our state. There are no abortion clinics in Wichita and just three in the Kansas City area. Kansas is a state of 82,282 square miles. Why is the Legislature focused upon three small medical clinics within these 82,282 miles? Why will legislative time, energy and resources be spent on this during difficult economic times?
Last session, six different reproductive health restrictions were introduced, including the defunding of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri’s family planning services. Five of the measures passed, and three of the five are in the midst of litigation.
It is estimated that current court proceedings cost Kansas taxpayers $476,000 last year. This should be considered just the tip of the monetary iceberg. In these cases, witnesses have not yet been deposed, and motions are being filed. Court cases take time.
In 2012, abortion legislation will continue to be sponsored by legislators. Committees will hear these bills, and votes will be cast. The large anti-choice majority will act as a rubber stamp for this entire process.
These unconstitutional bills will be presented to Gov. Sam Brownback, and he will sign them. In doing so, he also will be signing his name on the check to the lawyers who will be needed to defend these laws in court.
Our history with former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline shows us the longevity in these abortion wars. He is still costing Kansas taxpayers money a decade later. According to the Kansas City Star, as of last April, taxpayers had spent $400,000 for his defense surrounding his alleged misconduct in his pursuit of abortion doctors in Kansas. Then there’s the $350,000 settlement paid to settle a sex-discrimination suit, but that’s another matter.
No matter what your view on abortion may be, the citizens of Kansas should challenge members of the 2012 Legislature to spend their time, energy, resources and money in advancing prosperity in Kansas through job creation and education, rather than continuing to saddle the taxpayers with their ideological debt.