Kansas Republicans Mock Rape Exceptions for Abortion Restrictions as ‘Little Gotcha Amendments’
Senators discussed the bill for more than two hours on Monday. There were several proposed amendments up for debate — a rape and incest exception, a provision ensuring that women won’t be prosecuted for using birth control even if the state officially redefines life with a “personhood” amendment, and a measure to remove HB 2253′s requirement that doctors tell women about a scientifically disputed link between abortion and breast cancer. All of them were rejected.
“These amendments are little gotcha amendments,” Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce (R) said during the floor debate. “I’m getting a little irritated at it.”
State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R) explained she opposed the rape and incest exception because it would apply not just to HB 2253, but also to the existing abortion laws in Kansas. That means it would extend an exception in the cases of rape and incest to current state restrictions banning most abortions after 22 weeks, preventing private health insurance from covering abortion services, and requiring doctors to obtain parental consent before performing an abortion for a minor. “This language would completely undo 10 to 20 years of abortion legislation,” Pilcher-Cook said.
In fact, such an amendment wouldn’t “undo” state-level abortion restrictions at all. Exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and preserving the life of the woman are still extremely narrow, and don’t change the fact that restrictions on reproductive care are still imposed on the majority of women. Those small exemptions have become somewhat of a national standard. The federal government, 32 states, and the District of Columbia all offer exceptions in the cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest in their bans on public funding for abortion. Americans also overwhelmingly support abortion access for victims of rape and incest.