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Abortion Bans

Kansas directs all state government agencies to interpret and construe every law as recognizing that life begins at fertilization-and that life carries with it all the rights and privileges of legal personhood.  On its face, this directive is limited by the United States Constitution, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the Kansas constitution, and the laws of Kansas. H.B. 2253, 2013 Reg. Leg. Sess. (Kan. 2013).


Kansas outlaws abortion after 22 weeks* without an adequate exception to protect women's health or for cases in which the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.  H.B. 2218, 2011 Reg. Leg. Sess. (Kan. 2011) (Enacted 2011) (to be codified at K.S.A. 65-445).

Kansas' law makes abortion after 22 weeks a misdemeanor or a felony, unless necessary to save a woman's life or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.  Physicians in violation of the law would be guilty of a class A misdemeanor for the first violation carrying a penalty of up to one year in jail and a level 10 felony for subsequent violations.  In addition, the law allows the woman, her spouse, or her guardian if she is not 18 years of age to bring a civil suit for damages against the physician.  H.B. 2218, 2011 Reg. Leg. Sess. (Kan. 2011) (Enacted 2011) (to be codified at K.S.A. 65-445).

In previous abortion restrictions, Kansas allowed for certain exceptions to protect a woman's "bodily function."  In 2013, Kansas has since narrowed the health exception in all state abortion restrictions to include "physical functions" only, explicitly excluding mental or emotional functions.  H.B. 2253, 2013 Reg. Leg. Sess. (Kan. 2013).  


Kansas outlaws certain safe second-trimester abortion procedures with no exception to protect a woman's health.  H.B. 2035, 2011 Reg. Leg. Sess. (Kan. 2011) (Enacted 2011) (to be codified at K.S.A. 65-6721).

The law provides that no physician shall provide such an abortion procedure unless it is necessary to save the life of a woman "whose life is endangered by a physical disorder, physical illness, or physical injury, including a life endangering physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself."  The law further provides that any physician who violates the law shall be guilty of a class 8 person felony, and allows the husband or parents of the pregnant woman to bring a civil suit for damages against the physician.  H.B. 2035, 2011 Reg. Leg. Sess. (Kan. 2011) (Enacted 2011) (to be codified at K.S.A. 65-6721).

There is also a Federal Abortion Ban, which applies nationwide regardless of state law.  The federal ban prohibits certain second-trimester abortion procedures and has no exception for a woman's health.  In April 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the ban, making it the first time since Roe v. Wade that the court has upheld a ban on a previability abortion procedure.  Click here to read more about the Federal Abortion Ban.

*The Kansas law measures gestation based on a woman's last menstrual period (LMP), in contrast to most states that measure post-fertilization.  Using the LMP standard usually adds two weeks to the gestational age; as a result, this law likely bans abortion at 22 weeks.  

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