Most Kansans — based on their voting record — agree that less government and more personal liberties are best. Many of the state’s lawmakers say they agree, but have an odd way of following through on that way of thinking. One example is Senate bill 142, which is legislation that restricts reproductive rights of women by expanding the language of when life begins to declare “personhood” beginning “at fertilization.”
The bill — signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Sam Brownback — contracts women’s reproductive rights and puts the government in charge of women’s health decisions. That is quite the contradiction to the mantra of less government. Here’s how Brownback’s office framed the bill in a recent press release:
SB 142 “prohibits civil actions for a claim of wrongful life or wrongful birth and prohibits recovery of damages in any civil action for any physical condition of a minor that existed at birth if such damages arise out of a claim that a person’s action or omission contributed to the minor’s mother not obtaining an abortion. The new law also amends the wrongful death statute to include ‘unborn child’ within the definition of ‘person’ for purposes of the statute, which would allow a wrongful death action for the death of an unborn child caused by the wrongful act or omission of another. ‘Unborn child’ is defined as a living individual organism of the species homo sapiens, in utero, at any stage of gestation from fertilization to birth.”
Kansas lawmakers seemingly have forgotten that abortion is legal based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, and have decided to marginalize reproductive rights — continuing to chip away women’s health rights until the decisions about their own bodies are left completely to the government. One can only imagine what kind of anxiety this change will make for physicians who now will avoid working with pregnant patients who could suddenly have a miscarriage and unintentionally lose a child, thus the doctor becoming an accessory to a crime because his or her action or omission might have contributed to the unborn child’s death.
For some perhaps, the fewer liberties afforded to women in the Sunflower State will be a point of pride. Women won’t even have to think about how to handle a pregnancy because the government has done all the needed thinking for them. Women will be able to capably move through their pregnancy without the advice of a doctor because Kansas’ Big Brother government surely knows more than the patient and doctor on their own.
Of course, this isn’t the first course correction legislators have taken on the path to removing women’s reproductive rights. Kansas was ranked fourth for the most restrictive laws for abortion rights, but is well on its way to eclipsing Oklahoma’s 22 separate provisions restricting women’s access to abortion.
“None of these restrictions are based on scientific evidence concerning what is best for the health of the woman,” Elizabeth Nash, with Guttmacher Institute, a research group in Washington, D.C. and New York, said. “The kinds of restrictions we see being passed are meant to make it more difficult for providers to perform abortions and more emotionally difficult for women to choose them.”
Perhaps Kansas’ formerly strong women just need to get used to being barefoot and pregnant because that’s what Kansas lawmakers decided is best. Sadly, all three of Franklin County’s lawmakers — state Sen. Caryn Tyson, R-Parker, and state Reps. Blaine Finch, R-Ottawa, and Kevin Jones, R-Wellsville — voted to support SB 142 and the restriction of women’s rights.
What a juxtaposition — more government and fewer personal liberties — surely lawmakers have more important matters to deal with than worsening life for Kansas women with hostile laws that take the state backward 40 years.
— Jeanny Sharp,
editor and publisher