Kansas could make doctors ask patients why they want abortions, then report it

Four Kansas lawmakers
Kansas House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Brenda Landwehr, left, consults with Majority Whip Susan Estes during the House’s session Wednesday in Topeka, Kan. Landwehr and other antiabortion lawmakers are pursuing a bill to require providers to ask their patients why they are having abortions and to report their answers to the state.
(John Hanna / Associated Press)

Kansas would require abortion providers to ask patients why they’re terminating their pregnancies and report the answers to the state under a measure moving through the Republican-controlled Legislature. Frustrated Democrats are pointedly suggesting a similar rule for vasectomies and erectile dysfunction.

The state House this week approved, in an 81-39 vote, a bill that would require providers to ask patients 11 questions about their reasons for terminating a pregnancy, including that they can’t afford another child, raising a child would hinder their education or careers, or a spouse or partner wanted the patient to have an abortion. The bill goes next to the state Senate, where it also is likely to pass.

It’s not the only state that requires similar reporting, but no others have had a statewide vote on abortion rights as Kansas did in August 2022. In the first state ballot question on abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, voters decisively protected abortion rights under the state constitution.

Democrats are frustrated because Republicans and antiabortion groups have pursued new rules for abortion providers and aid to antiabortion counseling centers despite the statewide vote to protect abortion rights.


“Quite honestly, I don’t understand it, you know, because I think Kansans made it very, very clear how they want Kansas to operate in this arena,” said Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly, a strong supporter of abortion rights.

Both state chambers have large antiabortion majorities, and last year Republicans overrode Kelly’s vetoes of other restrictions on providers.

Unable to stop the bill from passing, Democrats attacked what they saw as the unfairness of requiring women to face detailed questions about their motives for seeking healthcare when men would not. Democrats started with vasectomies.

Then, Kansas City-area Democratic Rep. Stephanie Sawyer Clayton called erectile dysfunction “a scourge” that lowered the state’s birth rate. She suggested requiring doctors to ask male patients whether they wanted to treat it because a spouse wanted that or because it caused the man stress or embarrassment.

“If we are going to subject one group to humiliating questions when they get legal healthcare, then all groups should be subjected to humiliating questions when they get legal healthcare,” she said.

Republicans argued that doctors often ask patients questions when they seek care, including about their mental health and whether they have guns in their homes. “This is about abortion reporting. It has nothing to do with the male body parts,” said House health committee Chair Brenda Landwehr, a Wichita Republican.


Doctors in states with strict abortion restrictions say more pregnant women are seeking early prenatal testing. But those tests only show so much.

Feb. 13, 2024

In Kansas, a doctor who provides an abortion already must report the patient’s age and ethnicity, whether the person was married and the method used to terminate a pregnancy.

The state allows abortions for almost any reason until the 22nd week of pregnancy, and that wouldn’t change under the bill.

States requiring doctors to report the reasons for an abortion include Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Utah. Minnesota’s Democratic-controlled Legislature repealed its similar reporting requirement last year.

The law in Oklahoma, where most abortions are banned, includes a list of more than 30 questions that a provider must ask a patient about her motives. Potential reasons include relationship problems and not feeling mature enough to raise a child.

Kansas lawmakers have given final passage to a bill that could subject doctors to lawsuits or criminal charges.

April 4, 2023

“Everyone on both sides of this issue should agree on the need for better reporting,” said Tessa Longbons Cox, a senior research associate at the antiabortion Charlotte Lozier Institute.

But none of the other states with such a reporting law has had a statewide vote on protecting abortion rights, as Kansas has. In pursuing antiabortion measures, Republican lawmakers have said their new rules don’t go against voters’ wish to maintain some abortion access.


“This bill has nothing to do with eliminating abortion in Kansas, doesn’t ban it, doesn’t touch on that whatsoever,” Landwehr said. “I’ve respected that vote.”

John Hanna writes for the Associated Press. AP writer Steve Karnowski contributed to this report.