TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas clinics will be required to tell patients that medication abortions can be stopped using a drug regimen that the providers consider ineffective and potentially dangerous after a key legislative vote Thursday in the nation’s ongoing partisan culture war.
The Republican-controlled state Senate voted 29-11 along party lines to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of the medication abortion “reversal” measure. The GOP-controlled House overrode the veto Wednesday on an 84-40 vote and the new law takes effect July 1.
Kelly vetoed more than a dozen bills restricting abortion providers, rolling back transgender rights or enacting other conservative policies that have been pursued by Republicans across the U.S. While top GOP lawmakers prevailed on a majority of the Kansas measures, Kelly had some key victories.
Republicans moved ahead on anti-abortion measures despite a decisive statewide vote in August 2022 affirming abortion rights. Democrats accused abortion opponents of breaking faith with voters, but Republicans argued that the vote didn’t preclude “reasonable” restrictions on providers.
Republicans overrode Kelly’s veto of $2 million in state funds for centers run by abortion opponents that provide counseling and other free services to discourage people from getting abortions, as well as a measure that could have providers facing criminal charges over allegations about their care for newborns delivered during abortion procedures.
They also overrode four of Kelly’s vetoes of anti-transgender legislation, as well as a measure designed to combat the smuggling of immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. They rejected the governor’s argument that the latter bill was written so broadly that a “good Samaritan” might face a prison sentence for taking gas money after driving an immigrant to work.
“It shows you that the governor is not currently in the middle of the road,” Senate President Ty Masterson, a Wichita-area Republican, said after lawmakers finished a spate of votes overriding vetoes. “She’s off on the left edge somewhere. We’re trying to find her.”
Kelly narrowly won reelection last year after her campaign broadcast ads showing her in the middle of a rural Topeka-area road as a metaphor for her politics. She said Thursday that her vetoes were “a check on legislation that is too extreme one way or the other.”
“I’m disappointed some legislators are eager to force through extremist legislation that will hurt our economy and tarnish our reputation as the Free State,” Kelly said in a statement, alluding to how Kansas became a state with an anti-slavery constitution just before the American Civil War started.
The new requirement on medication abortions will become part of a longstanding state law spelling out what information clinics must give patients 24 hours in advance of an abortion — in print. Supporters said it makes sure women know of an option if they have doubts about terminating their pregnancies.