Pro-life Kansas physicians and pharmacists will have less reason to fear retaliatory discharge due to the Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback late Friday. State Rep. Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe), chair of the House Judiciary committee, was the bill’s author and Sen. Garrett Love (R-Montezuma) was chief sponsor in the Senate.
Seven other states have similar conscience-protecting laws. Courts have consistently ruled that the so-called right to an abortion does not require that all medical professionals be forced to perform them.
Under the Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act, professionals will also not be forced to refer for abortions. The law also expands conscience protection to apply to all medical facilities, not just hospitals.
Kansans for Life targeted passage of the bill as a top priority especially since the current federal climate is showing increased hostility to religious liberty and is pushing healthcare to include abortion without exclusions.
Kansas law first extended the right to refuse to perform or participate in abortion in 1969, long before abortion-causing drugs were mainstream. Rep. Kinzer said the new law was intended to cover the abortion drug RU-486.
But adding to the moral confusion– especially for pharmacists– is the fact that drugs labeled contraceptive, like “Ella” are more chemically identical to drugs specifically designed to induce abortion. Testimony supplied to the House Judiciary committee relayed that labels for oral contraceptives all include warning of a “post-fertilization” abortifacient effect.
This is why the bill’s language covers drugs and devices “reasonably believed” by the professional to cause abortion. Rep. Kinzer explained, “If someone were fired or sued for refusing to provide a drug, he said, he or she could then litigate whether there was a basis for believing the drug would cause an abortion.”