Kansas House advances ‘state-mandated deception’ of abortion pill reversal
Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen, pictured during a March 14, 2023, committee hearing, questioned the moral seriousness of lawmakers who support legislation that requires doctors to tell women they can reverse the abortion pill. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)
Rep. Brad Boyd, an Olathe Democrat, admonished fellow lawmakers Tuesday for ignoring the will of Kansas voters who overwhelmingly rejected a constitutional amendment on abortion last year.
He spoke in opposition to House Bill 2439, which would require doctors to tell their patients it is possible to reverse the abortion pill — a dubious claim based on junk research. Other studies have shown the attempt to reverse the pill introduces health risks for women.
As Boyd put it, the “government-imposed mandate of abortion misinformation misleads the public and compromises the integrity of health care providers.”
“The voters have made their choices,” Boyd said. “They have made their voices loud. This body would be wise to listen to them. They were loud, they were clear, they were bold. They do not want government in the room with them and their doctor.”
Mifepristone is used for about two-thirds of the abortions in Kansas, according to data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Republicans who support the proposed legislation point to debunked research by California physician George Delgado to support the claim that off-label use of progesterone could preserve a pregnancy if taken quickly after the abortion pill.
Rep. Bill Clifford, a Republican ophthalmologist from Garden City who defended the House bill as an attempt to protect women, imagined the scenario women face when they take the pill.
“You have a woman who already took one of these pills in the protocol,” Clifford said. “She’s scared. She may have been coerced to take the pill. She may be mad at her partner when she took that pill, but she usually has regret.”
He provided no evidence to support the scenario, which conflicts with the reality that women are relieved to have access to reproductive health care.
The House advanced the legislation after a debate that fell along party lines.
Rep. Susan Humphries, a Wichita Republican, described the bill as a way to give women hope.
“Why would anyone not want to give a woman a choice when she’s in a hard place?” Humphries said.
Rep. Lindsay Vaughn, an Overland Park Democrat, said there was no evidence to support that reversal of the abortion pill is possible. She said patients deserve to be given accurate information, “without state-mandated deception.”
“We’re requiring doctors to lie to their patients and we’re putting the lives of women at risk,” Vaughn said.
Rep. Tobias Schlingensiepen, a Topeka Democrat, told colleagues morality is cheap when it isn’t backed up by deeds. He said it would be a better conversation if lawmakers were willing to put support behind women. The issue shouldn’t just be about saving babies, he said, but about saving children, mothers and “our own moral seriousness.”
“Why is it that we are such birth heroes, but when it comes to everything that follows birth we capitulate?” Schlingensiepen said. “The best way to deal with unwanted pregnancies is to encourage the people who are struggling with those decisions in every possible way.”
Rep. Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican who served in the House from 1995 to 2012 and again since 2017, said nobody in the building has spent more years than she has working to improve foster care, mental health and social services.
Her message to opponents of the bill: “Please stop saying that we do not care.”
“I think we all care about life in a different way,” Landwehr said. “But don’t be so pro-abortion that you don’t see anything outside of ‘it’s got to be no, it’s got to be no, it’s got to be no.’ Because it doesn’t. There is a balance.”
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