If Kansas state lawmakers have their way, women seeking an abortion in the state will first have to receive a detailed professional history of the doctor performing the procedure — and it must be in black, 12-point Times New Roman font on white paper.
The bill, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, would require abortion clinics to provide patients with printed information detailing doctors’ educational history, disciplinary and malpractice record, and when they started working at the clinic.
Doctors would also have to disclose whether they have malpractice insurance and admitting privileges at a local hospital, and if they are Kansas residents. Critics argue that such admitting privileges — which many states have sought to mandate — are not only difficult to obtain but medically unnecessary, as abortion clinic patients rarely have to go to a hospital. And due to a number of factors, including a lack of trained and willing local doctors, abortion providers often live far from their clinics or even out of state.
“I think this is a bill that will help women make the right choice or an informed decision,” Republican Sen. Rob Olson told the Kansas City Star.
Republican state Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook added, “Women don’t leave abortion clinics whistling and jumping up and down…. They are in a very vulnerable state because the nature of abortion is ugly and is evil because it kills a human being.”
But other lawmakers condemned the bill as “simply harassment” and “discriminatory,” arguing that doctors who perform other medical procedures doctors are not held to the same standard. And Democratic state Sen. Marci Francisco pointed out that the state legislature routinely uses 10-point font on its bills.
“We should not ask to have someone provide something in a larger font than we provide the information to ourselves and our constituents on bills that are very important,” Francisco told the Associated Press.
The bill is still awaiting the signature of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who has signed every abortion restriction that has crossed his desk since he took office in 2011.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that researches and supports abortion rights, Kansas already has a number of abortion restrictions on the books, including:
- Women must wait 24 hours after getting counseling that describes the details and risks — a requirement critics argue is meant to discourage abortion — before they can receive an abortion.
- Women must also receive ultrasounds of their fetuses, and the provider must offer to show them the ultrasound image.
- Except in medical emergencies, abortion is prohibited at 22 or more weeks after a woman’s last period. Supporters say this is because fetuses can feel pain at this point in their development, a statement that is not backed up by medical research. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, fetuses generally become viable at 24 weeks.