Republican lawmakers in Kansas have introduced a bill that would allow individual cities and counties to ban abortion, directly overriding a vote last year where the majority of state residents chose to protect reproductive rights.
Almost 60 percent of Kansans voted in August to keep the right to an abortion in the state Constitution. The result was considered—and turned out to be—a bellwether for the fight for reproductive rights after the fall of Roe v. Wade a few months earlier.
But on Thursday, Kansas state Senator Chase Blasi introduced a bill that would allow cities and counties to enact abortion restrictions, arguing he was taking the issue to “a more local level.”
Blasi apparently subscribes to the belief “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” If it becomes law, his bill would undermine the voters’ decision from August.
“The irony of this bill is too much,” Anamarie Rebori Simmons, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes, told The New Republic. “The party that tried to remove fundamental protections from the state Constitution didn’t get the outcome they wanted when Kansans overwhelmingly supported abortion access. This is an attempt to blatantly disregard the will of the people. Abortion rights won in a landslide, including in the home county of the bill’s sponsor. Politicians serve as the voice of the people in the legislature, and Republican lawmakers should know better than to silence those they represent.”
Kansas allows abortion up to 22 weeks, but the state also has multiple rules aimed at discouraging people from getting abortions, such as requiring patients to receive state-directed counseling and to undergo an ultrasound before getting the procedure. The ultrasound provider must offer the patient the option to see the image.
Democratic state Senator Cindy Holscher slammed the bill as an attempt by “extremists” to “find another path” to increase restrictions on abortion and said the measure will likely go to court if it passes.
It’s not the only bill attacking reproductive rights: State Senator Mark Steffen also introduced a bill that would ban the prescription via telemedicine of abortion pills or drugs used to induce abortions.
Ashley All, a senior advisor for the reproductive freedom nonprofit Families United for Freedom, slammed the Blasi bill’s hypocrisy. “It’s important to remember that the amendment on the ballot in August specifically asked voters’ permission for politicians to further regulate abortion and voters said NO,” she told The New Republic. “These extreme anti-abortion politicians are ignoring the will of Kansas voters and attempting to eliminate our constitutional rights.”
Neither bill is likely to become state law. Kansas Governor Laura Kelly supports abortion rights and thus will probably veto them both should they make it to her desk. But the legislation is an indication that the attempts to limit reproductive freedom are only getting more intense.
This post has been updated.