By Kathy Ostrowski, Legislative Director
Kansans for Life
The Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE), the state health department, has released preliminary annual data on abortions performed in Kansas, showing a 5.4 % decrease in the number of abortions from 7, 885 in 2011 to 7,457 abortions in 2012. This is the lowest state total since 1987, two years after all abortion providers were legally mandated to report. The total was divided between 3,661 obtained by residents and 3,796 by non-residents.
143 women were certified for abortion at Kansas clinics this year and did not return to abortion. This compares to 182 in 2011. KDHE does not collect reasons for these “no-returns.”
Kansas requires “Woman’s Right to Know” (WRTK) informed consent materials be accessed 24 hours prior to abortion, whether received from the abortion clinic at the initial visit, or through the state hotline, or just by viewing online at http://www.womansrighttoknow.org. It is not unreasonable to surmise that the WRTK materials both contribute to “no-returns” as well as deter some women from ever entering a clinic.
A woman contemplating abortion may fear a lack of support for her pregnancy needs, or be responding to subtle or overt pressure from her family or the father of the child. In the WRTK info, she finds:
· fetal development explanations with high definition real-time sonography;
· a directory of statewide locations for free individual ultrasounds and 80 pregnancy maintenance centers;
· links to assistance for medically-challenging pregnancies;
· warnings that coerced abortions are illegal.
There was a decrease in all categories except “RU486″ abortions by abortifacient pill. These rose from 20% to 30% of total Kansas abortions. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2012 the national average for chemical abortion was 17.4%. Kansas enacted a ban on chemical abortion obtained “by webcam” in the 2011 clinic regulation law, which is not in effect due to litigation.
Two-parent consent for abortions to minors under age 18 became law in July 2011. KDHE did not publish the number of requests for judicial bypass (that is, minors asking a judge to waive parental consent). Abortions to minors continue to decline: in 2011, 331 minors obtained abortions in 2011 and 304 in 2012. Abortions to girls age 15 and under declined from 32 in 2011 to 25 in 2012.
Since July 2011, Kansas bans abortions to pain-capable unborn children at 22 weeks gestation (20 weeks post-fertilization). KDHE reports three Kansas women obtained out-state abortions past 22 weeks gestation, compared with eight in 2011 (before and after the new law, respectively).
Continuing a two-year trend, more abortions in Kansas are obtained by non-residents than residents. In 2011, abortions to non-residents exceeded resident by 3,939 to 3,912 and in 2012 by 3,796 to 3,661. 97% of the non-residents are from Missouri, a consistent figure, as 2 of 3 Kansas abortion providers are located in the Kansas City KS/MO metro area.
There were five reports of abuse or neglect collected in conjunction with these abortions (four in 2011) but no further details on resolution of these matters are published.
HB 2253, the Pro-Life Protections Act, has passed the House and awaits Senate action this week. Relevant to informed consent, HB 2253 will:
· add clarifying language to the coercion warnings that must be posted inside abortion clinics;
· maintain modest, medically-based risk discussion in WRTK materials about abortion, pre-term birth and breast cancer;
· require KDHE to beef up medical information access and community support connections for coping with pre- and post-natally-diagnosed disabilities.