Written by Kari Ann Rinker for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

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As Jodi Jacobson reported earlier today, public hearings were held in Kansas today for the abortion regulations created by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.  I presented the following testimony on behalf of Kansas NOW.

I’m the State Coordinator for Kansas NOW, which means that I stand before you today as a grassroots women’s rights activist and equality advocate.   I stand before you today, as a voice for a whole lot of Kansas women who cannot be here to tell you how they feel about these regulations.  These women want me to express what they think about the possibility of losing their access to existing abortion clinics within their state.  These are good women who have either used these clinics personally, or simply take comfort in knowing that these facilities exist should they need them.

While I may not be a public health professional, my understanding as a graduate student of Public Administration is that government enacts regulations when a public need for protection presents itself, in the case of Kansas Department of Health and Environment, when some public health concern or externality needs to be addressed.  As employees of an agency that is supported by public tax dollars, deliberative, non-ideological processes are to be expected, especially with regard to the health and well being of the citizens they work for.  I do not believe that this regulatory process met those deliberative, non-ideological tenets.

I certainly do not believe that the health of Kansas women has been furthered by the temporary regulations presented by the KDHE.  I do believe that the women of Kansas need to be protected.  They need to be protected from overeager political majorities that unduly hasten regulatory processes, putting unnecessary demands upon our health care agencies and putting women’s legal health care access at risk.

I was in attendance at the hearing held in Topeka on June 30, 2011 before the committee that approved the temporary regulations that closed two of the three abortion clinics in the state.  What I heard from the Secretary of the KDHE, Robert Moser, was a story about the frenetic departmental rush to comply with the legislative mandates set forth.  He spoke of cancelled vacations, working weekends and nights, all toward their effort of mere compliance.  What I did not hear uttered even once was exactly how Kansas women would be better off from the regulations.  There was no talk of expected outcomes or pride in improved processes, only a sense of weary accomplishment as they presented the product of their agency all nighters.

Women deserve more respect than to be used as pawns in a game of political posturing via the regulatory processes of the very agencies that our tax dollars support.  We had thought that Kansas had had enough of the days of public offices and agencies being controlled by extremists such as our former Attorney General Phil Kline, but it seems we have come back around to this same place again.  This regulatory process has been a sham, a shame and an embarrassment for this state and has done nothing to improve the health of the women who live here.

I urge the KDHE to appeal to the legislature to request more time for deliberation and research toward the intended outcomes from potential restrictions and amend the temporary regulations to remove the unnecessary, overtly biased regulations contained within.