Politics & Government

Guttmacher analysis says Kansas abortion laws ‘flout the science’

Abortion opponents and abortion-rights supporters engage in a public protest at Central and Rock Road.
Abortion opponents and abortion-rights supporters engage in a public protest at Central and Rock Road. File photo

A national research and policy institute that advocates for sexual and reproductive health, including access to abortions, has issued a new analysis saying that at least 10 categories of abortion restrictions “lack a foundation in rigorous scientific evidence.”

Kansas and Texas top the institute’s list of states that have such restrictions. Oklahoma is among the states vying for second place.

“Most importantly, these restrictions needlessly impose real barriers and harm to the over 1 million women of reproductive age in Kansas and Oklahoma,” said Elizabeth Nash, one of the authors of the study, in a media conference call Tuesday.

The Guttmacher analysis, “Flouting the Facts: State Abortion Restrictions Flying in the Face of Science,” was published Tuesday.

“The one truly irrefutable scientific fact in the abortion debate is the humanity of the unborn child; if they come up with a scientific report proving that wrong, we’re all ears,” Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said in a written statement responding to the analysis.

Kansas has eight laws that the Guttmacher Institute rated as conflicting with scientific evidence, including barring telemedicine to administer medication abortion and allowing only physicians to provide abortions.

Others require women to receive counseling or wait a mandatory period of time before receiving an abortion. One bans abortion 20 weeks post-fertilization based on the belief that the fetus can feel pain.

Two restrictions in Kansas are blocked by court order. One would require abortion clinics to meet standards equivalent to those in place for ambulatory surgical centers, while the other would require the abortion provider to have admitting privileges at a hospital.

Kansans for Life also wrote that Kansans have overwhelmingly supported laws passed by the Legislature.

“The PR problem the abortion industry faces is the increased pro-life convictions of the voting public, which has strongly elected pro-life legislators, the majority of all sitting governors and the new Trump administration,” Kansans for Life wrote.

Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women, said these restrictions can push women to seek other types of abortion procedures or force them to leave the state for care, increasing costs and other burdens.

Trust Women South Wind Women’s Center is the only clinic to offer medication and surgical abortion in Wichita as well as Oklahoma City. Oklahoma had seven of the 10 restrictions.

“What we really need alternatively are policies that will improve people’s lives instead of creating insurmountable roadblocks,” Burkhart said.

The only other state with restrictions in eight of the 10 categories was Texas. Altogether, 17 states had at least five types of restrictions. The most common law allows only licensed physicians to perform abortions.

Katherine Burgess: 316-268-6400, @KathsBurgess