The Impact of Kansas’ Second Trimester Abortion Ban on Women
Kansas is under fire from reproductive rights organizations this week after it became the first state to ban a common second trimester abortion procedure. The law prohibits the use of dilation and evacuation to terminate a pregnancy and will go into effect on July 1.
But reproductive rights experts tell Yahoo Health the new law may impact more than women in Kansas. Similar bans are currently being considered in Oklahoma, Missouri, and South Carolina, and the new legislation may speed up momentum in those states.
According to research conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, 21 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion and nine in 10 abortions occur during the first trimester of pregnancy. Approximately eight to nine percent of abortions use the dilation and evacuation method.
While second trimester abortions are less common than those done in the first trimester, reproductive rights experts say the recent ban is dangerous.
“This latest move by Kansas seems to be a very large leap toward criminalizing pregnant women,” Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) tells Yahoo Health. “We know that there are many states where pregnant women have been incarcerated, denied care, or humiliated because of these anti-women regulations.”
She cites the story of Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman controversially convicted of illegally inducing her own abortion who was sentenced on Monday to 20 years in jail, and stresses that second trimester abortions “rarely happen on a whim.”
Second-trimester abortions are typically done for miscarriage management due to fetal deformities or a danger to the mother’s health, women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD, tells Yahoo Health.
“Some women opt for second trimester abortions electively, but studies show that these women tend to be younger and of lower socioeconomic groups with less access to healthcare,” she says.
Women in Kansas who require a second-trimester abortion after July 1 would typically need to undergo a more painful medically-induced labor instead to expel the fetus and placenta, says Wider.
According to O’Neill, Kansas chapters of NOW have been actively working alongside fellow reproductive rights organizations NARAL and Planned Parenthood to have the law declared unconstitutional.
In an official statement, Planned Parenthood called the new law “atrocious,” adding, “our top priority remains fighting for the health and safety of Kansas women and giving voters the knowledge and tools they need to take back Kansas.”
Kansas’s new measure is the first of its kind to pass into law. However, laws challenging the reproductive rights of women have been overturned or blocked in the past. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with reproductive rights advocates and blocked key parts of a 2013 Texas law that closed all but eight facilities that provided abortions in the state. A bill similar to the one passed in Kansas was also tabled in South Dakota due to its inflammatory nature.
A Planned Parenthood insider tells Yahoo Health that the organization is currently evaluating all of its options in the wake of the law’s passing.
Read This Next: Should A Women Ever Need A Man’s OK For An Abortion?