Kansas has new abortion laws while Louisiana may block exceptions to its ban

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas is requiring abortion providers to share patient information with the state and increasing funding for anti-abortion centers, while in Louisiana, bills to relax the restrictive ban face an uphill battle, thanks to Republican supermajorities in their legislature.

Democratic lawmakers in Louisiana are pushing bills to add exceptions, including in cases of rape and incest, to the state’s near-total abortion ban. A Republican Party-dominated House committee began reviewing those measures on Tuesday, but similar proposals failed last year.

Meanwhile, in Kansas, the Republican Party-controlled Legislature on Monday overrode all four of Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s vetoes of measures sought by anti-abortion groups. Starting July 1, abortion providers must ask patients why they are terminating their pregnancies and report the answers to the state. It becomes a specific crime to force someone to have an abortion.

Kansas will also provide direct aid to anti-abortion centers as well as tax breaks for them and their donors. The goal of anti-abortion centers is to deter people from having abortions while providing supplies, classes and other services.

Anti-abortion groups still exert strong influence over Republicans in US statehouses. That’s even after votes on ballot initiatives in multiple states showed public support for abortion rights following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision in 2022 — with the first in Kansas in August 2022.

“We have not put this to bed,” Dinah Sykes, the Democratic leader of the Kansas Senate, said Tuesday. “The people who came to vote and had not voted before have to show up to vote in November.”

The two states, which are nearly 450 miles apart, have dramatically different abortion laws because of their highest courts. In August 2022, just months after Dobbs, the Louisiana Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge to that state’s near-total abortion ban, allowing the ban to go into effect. That was 10 days after Kansas voters decisively upheld the position that the state constitution protects abortion rights in a 2019 ruling by the state Supreme Court.

Kansas does not ban most abortions until the 22nd week of pregnancy. Kelly is a strong supporter of abortion rights and has consistently vetoed the Republican Party-controlled legislature’s abortion measures.

She is expected to veto a fifth measure sought by abortion opponents, a bill aimed at ensuring that judges rule that child support payments apply to fetuses to cover the mother’s pregnancy costs. It would be similar to a Georgian law.

Critics argue that Kansas’ child support measure furthers the anti-abortion movement’s longstanding goal of providing embryos and fetuses with legal and constitutional protections similar to those afforded to the people who carry them. There are dozens of proposals in at least 15 states aimed at advancing fetal rights, though most have not yet made progress, according to an Associated Press analysis earlier this year using bill-tracking software Plural .

“If we start saying that fetuses now have legal rights, that’s going to impact a whole host of other issues,” Senator Ethan Corson, a Kansas City-area Democrat, said before the measure passed last week.

But Kansas has had a law since 2007 that allows people to file separate charges for what it considers crimes against fetuses, and a 2013 state law declares that “unborn children have interests in life, health and welfare,” though that is not the case. ‘t enforced as a limit on abortion.

The child support bill would not change state policy on the legal status of fetuses, said Kansas Senate Judiciary Chairman Kellie Warren, a Republican from Kansas City.

“The real impact of this bill is helping women,” she said.

Abortion opponents have also touted the other measures as helping pregnant women and girls, in part by collecting better data on abortion so lawmakers can set clearer policies.

One measure remains providing $2 million a year in direct aid to anti-abortion centers that provide free supplies and services. Another exempts them from paying the 6.5% state tax on what they buy and gives their donors an income tax credit.

Kansans for Life, the state’s most influential anti-abortion group, said in a statement Monday that the measures “are aimed at meeting Kansans where they are and saving as many lives as possible.”

Meanwhile, many Republicans reject the argument that the August 2022 vote means Kansas voters expect lawmakers to stop regulating abortion.

“I think most Kansans would agree that we wanted some safeguards,” said Wichita Republican Party Secretary of State Renee Erickson.

The only exceptions in Louisiana to the abortion ban are when there is a substantial risk of death or limitations for the patient in continuing the pregnancy and when the fetus has a fatal abnormality that makes a pregnancy “medically futile.”

Earlier this year, lawmakers rejected an effort to let voters decide whether abortions should be legal in Louisiana. The legislation proposed an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution to enshrine reproductive rights for women, including access to contraception, abortion and infertility treatments.

Public opinion polls across the country and some in Louisiana, as reported by The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate, show majorities oppose the most restrictive bans.

During the Louisiana House committee’s first review Tuesday of bills adding new exceptions, Democrats shed tears and raised their voices in calling for exceptions to the current law for rape and incest.

Democratic state Rep. Alonzo Knox of New Orleans questioned why young girls “who have been abused in the most unfathomable ways” should be forced to give birth and repeatedly traumatized by the experience.

“Not only that, she gives birth to a child that she has no knowledge or training on how to care for,” he added.

The committee expects to vote next week. Sponsoring state Rep. Delisha Boyd, another New Orleans Democrat, said she will try to sit down with Republican lawmakers and GOP Gov. Jeff Landry to see if she can amend the bill to improve its chances of passage to increase.

Landry, who was elected last year, replaced Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards, who supported some abortion restrictions but was a vocal supporter of some exceptions.


Cline reported from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.