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Kansas Set To Become First State To Ban Second Trimester Abortion Procedure

The Kansas legislature voted 98-26 Wednesday to ban an abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation. If signed into law, as Gov. Sam Brownback has promised to do, Kansas would become the first state in the country to ban the procedure. 

The procedure is a common second trimester abortion procedure, making up 8.8 percent of all abortions in Kansas. The bill renames the procedure "dismemberment," claiming that the fetus is pulled limb from limb before being removed. National Right to Life director of state legislation Mary Spaulding Balch said in a press release that "dismemberment abortions brutally — and unacceptably — rip apart small human beings." 

Laura McQuade, the president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, says the argument isn't based on medical fact. 

"It's utterly sensationalized and inflammatory," she says. "In fact, the entire bill is drafted in non-medically accurate language. It's not just a legal campaign, it's a campaign in the court of public opinion." 

While the abortion rate declined in Kansas last year (along with the birth rate), the number of dilation and evacuation procedures increased. McQuade says that increased abortion restrictions actually push women towards later-term abortions. 

"The more restrictions you put in place — like whether or not you have to get forms notarized, or whether or not your insurance covers it, or access to a provider — can affect when you can get an abortion," she says.  "There is a dramatic impact on women in terms of when they can have the procedure based on these restrictions."  

If this bill becomes law, it will affect women in both Kansas and Missouri. The only abortion provider in Missouri is in St. Louis, and Kansas provided abortions to an almost equal number of in-state and out-of-state patients in 2014. 

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