Voters backed abortion rights. Yet Kansas could make doctors ask patients why they want abortions

Mar 6, 2024, 10:10 PM | Updated: Mar 8, 2024, 4:16 pm

Kansas House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Brenda Landwehr, left, R-Wichita, consults w...

Kansas House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Brenda Landwehr, left, R-Wichita, consults with Majority Whip Susan Estes, right, also R-Wichita, during the House's session, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, at the Statehouse in Topeka, Kan. Landwehr and other anti-abortion lawmakers are pursuing a bill to require providers to ask their patients why they are having abortions and to report their answers to the state. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

(AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas moved closer Thursday to requiring abortion providers to ask patients why they want to terminate their pregnancies and report the answers to the state. It would join other states with Republican legislatures that ban most abortions even though Kansas voters have affirmed abortion rights.

The House approved, in an 81-39 vote, a bill that would require providers to ask patients 11 questions about their reasons for terminating a pregnancy, including that they can’t afford another child, raising a child would hinder their education or careers, or a spouse or partner wanted her to have an abortion. The bill goes next to the state Senate, where it also is likely to pass.

At least eight states require similar reporting, but none have had a statewide vote on abortion rights as Kansas did in August 2022. In the first state ballot question on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, voters decisively protected abortion rights under the state constitution.

Democrats are frustrated because Republicans and anti-abortion groups have pursued new rules for abortion providers and aid to anti-abortion counseling centers despite that vote and votes affirming abortion rights in other states, including GOP-led Kentucky and Ohio.

“Quite honestly, I don’t understand it, you know, because I think Kansans made it very, very clear how they want Kansas to operate in this arena,” Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, a strong abortion rights supporter, said during a brief Associated Press interview this week. “Why would an elected official who’s facing an election in November go against the wishes of their constituents?”

Both chambers have large anti-abortion majorities and both sides believe there’s a strong chance abortion opponents could override a Kelly veto of the reporting bill. Last year, Republicans overrode Kelly’s vetoes of other restrictions on providers.

But Republicans are sensitive enough to criticism that their proposals go against the wishes of Kansas voters to argue that their proposals since the August 2022 ballot question have not reduced access to abortion. Kansas allows most abortion up until the 22nd week of pregnancy, and that would not change under the reporting bill.

“This bill has nothing to do with eliminating abortion in Kansas, doesn’t ban it, doesn’t touch on that whatsoever,” said House health Committee Chair Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican. “I’ve respected that vote.”

Backers of the bill argued the state needs more and better data about why women and girls have abortions so lawmakers can create programs to address their concerns.

“If we’re looking to protect unborn children and it’s a socio-economic reason, then maybe a state can step up,” said Ingrid Duran, state legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee.

In Kansas, a doctor who provides an abortion already must report the patient’s age and ethnicity, whether the person was married and the method used to terminate a pregnancy.

States requiring doctors to report the reasons for an abortion include Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah. Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled Legislature repealed its similar reporting requirement last year.

The law in Oklahoma, where most abortions are banned, includes a list of more than 30 questions a provider must ask a patient about her motives. Potential reasons include relationship problems and not feeling mature enough to raise a child.

Isabel Guarnieri, a spokesperson for the Guttmacher Institute, which researches abortion issues and supports abortion rights, said such data can be useful in public health. But she said such mandates also should be assessed in the context of lawmakers’ long history of trying to restrict access and stigmatize abortion.

Alesha Doan, a University of Kansas dean and professor who studies policy and gender, called the bill approved by the House “an unnecessary way for the state to continue to surveil people’s health decisions.”

Democrats, particularly female lawmakers, attacked what they saw as the unfairness of requiring women to face detailed questions about their motives for seeking health care when men would not. They started with vasectomies.

Then, Kansas City-area Democratic Rep. Stephanie Sawyer Clayton suggested requiring doctors to ask male patients whether they wanted to treat erectile dysfunction because a spouse wanted that or because it caused the man stress or embarrassment.

“Because I am still fertile right now, I don’t have that right to privacy,” she said after Thursday’s vote, summarizing what she sees as the bill’s real message. “Why am I less of a person than a post-menopausal woman? Why am I less of a person than a man?”

But that tactic prompted an eye-roll from Landwehr during a post-vote interview. She said Democrats should favor better data collection.

“You know, it amazes me that they don’t support this,” she said.


Associated Press writer Steve Karnowski contributed to this report.

___ This story was first published on March 7, 2024. It was updated on March 8, 2024, to make clear that at least eight states have reporting rules similar to what is being proposed in Kansas for those seeking abortions.

United States News

Associated Press

Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US college campuses following mass arrests at Columbia

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia canceled in-person classes, dozens of protesters were arrested at Yale and the gates to Harvard Yard were closed to the public on Monday as some of the most prestigious U.S. universities sought to difuse campus tensions over Israel’s war with Hamas. The various actions followed the arrest last week of […]

40 minutes ago

Ban on sleeping outdoors under consideration in Supreme Court...

Associated Press

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

The Supreme Court is wrestling with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness as it considers a ban on sleeping outdoors.

2 hours ago

Arizona judge declares mistrial in case of rancher who shot migrant...

Associated Press

Arizona judge declares mistrial in the case of a rancher accused of fatally shooting a migrant

An Arizona judge declared a mistrial in the case of rancher accused of killing a Mexican man on his property near the U.S.-Mexico border.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Trial opens for former Virginia hospital medical director accused of sexual abuse of ex-patients

NEW KENT, Va. (AP) — The former longtime medical director of a Virginia hospital that serves vulnerable children used physical examinations as a “ruse” to sexually abuse two teenage patients, a prosecutor said Monday, while the physician’s attorney “adamantly” denied any inappropriate conduct. The trial of Daniel N. Davidow of Richmond, who for decades served […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

US House Judiciary Committee chair seeks details from ATF on airport director shooting

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Monday asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to provide documents and information about its raid at the home last month of the Little Rock airport director who died after a shootout with agents serving a search warrant. Rep. […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Minnesota state senator arrested on suspicion of burglary

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A state senator and former broadcast meteorologist was arrested on suspicion of burglary early Monday in the northwestern Minnesota city of Detroit Lakes, police said. Democratic Sen. Nicole Mitchell, 49, of Woodbury, was being held in the Becker County Jail on suspicion of first-degree burglary. Formal charges were still pending Monday afternoon, […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.


Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Voters backed abortion rights. Yet Kansas could make doctors ask patients why they want abortions