According to a recent report, abortions increased by nine percent in the state of Kansas in 2020, ending a 20-year downward trend.
The preliminary report from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) attributed the increase to out-of-state patients, who accounted for nearly 52% (3,901) of women seeking abortions. In all, abortions rose to 7,542, an increase of 626. The report indicates that women from Missouri accounted for a majority of those at 3,641, while nearby Texas and Oklahoma out-of-state residents accounted for 556.
In April, the governor of Oklahoma signed three pro-life laws including a heartbeat bill, as Live Action News reported. Similarly, the 87th Legislative Session in Texas passed a number of pro-life laws, most notably the Heartbeat Act signed into law last month, which Texas Right to Life called “the strongest pro-life bill to ever reach the Texas House floor.” As Live Action News noted, the Heartbeat Act not only outlaws abortions when a heartbeat is detectable but also uniquely allows private citizens to sue doctors who commit such abortions.
In 2019, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that abortion — “a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, including the decision whether to continue her pregnancy” — is protected by the state’s Bill of Rights, as Live Action News reported. The ruling came as a response to a legal challenge against a 2015 law that prohibited violent D&E dismemberment abortions.
Justice Caleb Stegall, the lone dissenting judge to the 2019 ruling, blasted the decision. “The majority’s decision is so consequential because it fundamentally alters the structure of our government to magnify the power of the state – all while using that power to arbitrarily grant a regulatory reprieve to the judicially privileged act of abortion,” he wrote. “In the process, the majority abandons the original public meaning of section 1 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights and paints the interest in unborn life championed by millions of Kansans as rooted in an ugly prejudice. For these reasons, I dissent.”
Kansans for Life lamented the state’s potential future as an “abortion destination” in a news release. “To put this into real perspective,” said director of communications Danielle Underwood, “the 626 additional abortions in Kansas during 2020 translates into the number of [high school] seniors who should have just completed their last year of secondary education at Wichita Heights and Shawnee Mission North high schools – combined. All those future leaders – teachers, health professionals, social workers, journalists and more – gone.
Senior lobbyist Jeanne Gawdun agreed. “Gov. Kelly owns this increase,” she told the Associated Press. “We can now consider her the abortion-industry governor.”
Editor’s Note, 3/28/22: This post has been updated since original publication.
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