New Law Could Outlaw Every Abortion In Kansas

The New York Times writes about a new law in Kansas that could outlaw every abortion in the state even though it’s disguised as a regulation of the practice of medicine:

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — One in a series of abortion limits approved in Kansas since Republicans took full control of the state government this year — a new license law — is raising uncertainty about the future of all abortion providers in the state.

Opponents of abortion say that the licenses — which newly dictate requirements for the size of rooms at abortion clinics, the stocking of emergency equipment, medications and blood supplies, and ties to nearby hospitals — will ensure at least a modicum of safety standards in a state that Troy Newman, the leader of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, said “had been the Wild West for abortionists for as long as anyone can remember.”

But abortion rights supporters, here and nationally, say the rules, which take effect next week, are onerous, have been rushed into place too rapidly and are actually aimed at ending abortion services at the only three places in the state now providing them, perhaps as early as Friday.

“These requirements range from the impossible to the absurd,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “They’re not designed to protect patient safety; they’re designed to shut down abortion providers.”

For decades, Kansas has been a focal point for the national debate over abortion. Opponents saw openings for new restrictions this year, after eight years under Democrats who had vetoed such measures, when Sam Brownback, a Republican who has long opposed abortion rights, became governor.

This year, lawmakers here have limited abortion coverage in health care plans, required young people to get consent from both parents for abortions and banned providers from offering medical abortions to people in other locations, communicating instructions via computer.

“What this shows is there’s been incredible pent-up demand in Kansas to pass really thoroughgoing pro-life legislation,” said Lance Kinzer, a Republican state representative who helped spearhead the legislation.

Julie Burkhart, who leads Trust Women, an abortion rights group, said she believed that by the end of the year Kansas could be one of a handful of states with no abortion clinics. “The anti-choicers have figured out that we don’t need to overturn Roe v. Wade,” she said. “We can legislate abortion clinics to death so that women don’t have access.”

There’s a difference, though, between regulating the practice of medicine to ensure the safety of patients and over-regulating to the point where it becomes economically impossible for a provider to stay in business. One is proper, the other is not.


FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.


  1. I actually find this kind of amusing, since bother parties have completely switched from their usual positions. Republicans opining how only the government regulation can assure customer safety and the dangers of unregulated business. Democrats complaining about excessive regulation crushing personal freedom by driving people out of business.

  2. WR says:

    Yes, except that in this case the Republicans are specifically and deliberately using excessive regulation to crush personal freedom. These regulations have nothing to do with safety or health or any other valid regulatory function.

  3. george says:

    Just in case anyone thought the Republican party was really against excessive gov’t regulation – they’re more into talking the talk than walking the walk.

  4. It’s kinda the same on the immigration issue. “We think excessive government regulation is crushing business. However we want to make it so every hiring decision needs to be pre-approved by a federal government beuracrat.”

  5. DavidL says:

    It is ironic to see republicans take a page from the democrats play book. I suspect in the end it well still be easier to get an abortion in Kansas than a gun permit in Chicago, and not quite as hard as getting a drilling permit from the Obama administration.

  6. Hey Norm says:

    Yup…some more of that small gov’t de-regulation we keep hearing so much about.