Politics & Government

Kansas House passes tweak to abortion bill to lift court order

TOPEKA – The Kansas House on Saturday approved a bill dialing back some of the state’s restrictions on chemically induced abortions.

The changes are being made to settle litigation and lift a court order that has blocked a 2011 anti-abortion bill from being implemented, said Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, who carried the new bill, HB 2228.

The bill requires a prescribing physician to be present only when a patient takes her first dose of RU-486, a drug used to induce an abortion.

The previous law could have been interpreted to mean that the woman would have to stay at or return to the doctor’s office for a second dose hours later, Brunk said.

Opponents of the law have argued that it’s an onerous burden because the drug causes cramps and vaginal bleeding that are better suffered at home.

“This helps the woman so she can just go home,” Brunk said. “She doesn’t have to hang around for 12 hours.”

The bill also creates an exception allowing the prescribing doctor to not be present for the first RU-486 dose when the abortion patient is in a hospital, where other physicians or nurses are on hand to deal with any unexpected side effects.

Brunk said the bill was supported by both abortion opponents and abortion-rights supporters.

Abortion opponents were willing to lighten some of the restrictions so the 2013 law can take effect, heading off the possibility of doctors based in other states providing abortions in Kansas through telemedicine, Brunk said.

It passed 109-2 and now goes to the governor.

The only House opposition came from Reps. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka, and Carolyn Bridges, D-Wichita.

Bridges said her vote was “a matter of principle” and that she opposes the state Legislature infringing on the relationship between a woman and her doctor.

“I think when a woman needs to have an abortion, it’s a legal procedure, and I don’t think we ought to be messing with it,” she said.