Rep. Annie Kuether blasted annual efforts to pass anti-abortion legislation during a heated debate Monday on a bill regarding abortion pill reversals.
Women who undergo an abortion through medication take two rounds of pills, 48 hours apart. The proposed legislation would require physicians to tell women they can reverse the process in between the two rounds.
Democrats unsuccessfully introduced a flurry of amendments aimed at highlighting safety concerns and the likelihood of litigation that could follow. The House gave first-round approval to the bill on a voice vote.
Kuether, a Topeka Democrat, said the legislation was "beyond the pale." Every year, she said, lawmakers try to tell women they can't control their bodies.
"What makes sane people who want to go down this pathway hate women so much that they need to control them?" Kuether said. "This is utterly outrageous."
The spirited debate centered on allegations by Democrats that medical professionals overwhelmingly oppose the reversal process as unproven and unethical. They said the reversal could lead to birth defects and that women will sue the state if swayed by the information physicians provide under the proposed legislation.
"We are in uncharted waters, and we're going to have to pay for this," said Rep. Cindy Neighbor, D-Shawnee. "We know if it hasn't been tested and tried and true, there's going to be litigation."
Rep. John Eplee, R-Atchison, said the legislation is a "pro-women's health bill." He said "women are at a time of fragile minds" while undergoing an abortion.
"We're not holding a gun to their head," Eplee said. "We're not forcing them to have this procedure. We're just giving them the option."
A drug used in the abortion reversal has been prescribed for years to prevent miscarriages. The Federal Drug Administration hasn't approved the drug for use in abortion reversals, but supporters of the reversal said it is common for physicians to prescribe off-label uses for drugs.
Recalling an era when abortions were illegal and dangerous, Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, asked: "I wonder if a coat hanger is an off-label drug?"
Rep. Boog Highberger, D-Lawrence, offered a pair of amendments aimed at making a political point about the way information is presented to patients.
Two years ago, the Legislature passed a law requiring abortion doctors to tell women in writing about their education, employment history, and any disciplinary actions. The law requires the handout to be printed in black ink on white paper using 12-point Times New Roman font.
Highberger proposed attaching the same requirements to the abortion pill reversal.
Rep. Susan Humphries, R-Wichita, said she didn't understand the purpose of the amendment.
"I don't see anything in here that is suspicious," Humphries said, "but I don't understand the motivation exactly. We were specific before because we had seen some players in this that did light gray type on darker paper."
Lawmakers voted down Highberger's proposal.
"Upon further reflection," Highberger said, "I think you're right. I think having the government require this level of detail is really an overreach."
He then proposed an amendment to strike the ink, paper and font requirements from previous legislation. That also failed.
"This entire bill is government overreach," Highberger said. "I know the body here on this side of the aisle isn't very fond of the government. I hate to remind you, you are the government."