Kansas bill would make doctors ask patients why they want abortions and report answers

Kansas moved closer on Thursday to requiring abortion providers to ask patients why they want to terminate their pregnancies and report the answers.

This moves Kansas closer to other parts of the country with Republican legislatures that ban most abortions even though Kansas voters have affirmed abortion rights. 

On Thursday, the state 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, which will likely pass.

Democratic lawmakers say the bill contradicts the wishes of Kansas voters who, in 2022, voted to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have stripped residents of abortion rights. 

Do other states make doctors ask these questions?

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 Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled Legislature repealed its similar reporting requirement last year.

What do Democrats and Republicans think? 

Democrats are frustrated because anti-abortion groups, supported by Republican lawmakers, continue to pursue new rules for abortion and health care providers despite the 2022 vote that affirmed abortion rights in the state. 

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. 

"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?"

Republicans argue that their proposals don’t reduce access to abortion. Kansas allows most abortions 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Los Angeles.