As I talk to people about abortion related laws, most people are shocked that they still have to pay for abortions through their taxes under federal and state law. Many people are confused about how abortion providers still receive tax dollars especially in a state like Kansas where our legislature has repeatedly passed laws stating that state revenue should not go to fund abortions.
It happens in a couple different ways. First, it happens because federal dollars can still go to abortion providers through Title X Family Planning Services. The Hyde Amendment, which has been attached to every budget since 1976, is meant to ensure that federal funds don’t directly fund abortions. However, Title X funding has been used as a slush fund for abortion providers. Essentially, the government subsidizes certain work of these businesses – family planning services – so the businesses can then use other funds to provide abortion services.
This year the Trump Administration issued the Protect Life Rule which would prohibit Title X funds from going to abortion providers or those that refer for abortions. Even though the Supreme Court has repeatedly said that the right to abortion that the Court established in the Roe decision did not provide for government funding for abortion, courts on the West Coast have enjoined this rule meaning that for now, Title X funds can still go to abortion providers. The appeals are still in process but it could be years before this issue is resolved*.
As far as Kansas-specific laws go, in 2015 our legislature passed a law that would have kept state Medicaid funds from going to pay for abortion. Unfortunately, once again a federal court struck down this law. The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of this case, allowing the injunction to stay in place.
So we haven’t been able to completely block funding abortion through the federal government and blocking state funding has also hit some difficulties. These complications became even more apparent in May when the Kansas Supreme Court issued its opinion in Hodes and Nauser creating a fundamental right to abortion in the Kansas Constitution.
Not only did the Court go even further in protecting abortion than the U.S. Supreme Court did in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but it also implied that even under the state law we would have to provide funding for abortion.
The Court relied on three court opinions from other states that required those states fund abortions and one even required a private hospital to provide abortion if the hospital took government money. This doesn’t definitively say that Kansans would have to pay for abortions, but it is a very strong indicator that state-funded abortions are what the Kansas Court had in mind when it created a right to abortion in our Constitution.
Now this may seem very complex and an impossible web to untangle. But it isn’t.
In Kansas we can take a first step to right our own court’s bad opinion. We need to pass a constitutional amendment that says that there is not a right to abortion in our constitution and that our government is not required to pay for it.
These are not simple problems, but if we are willing to consistently work on these issues and ask the Lord for guidance, we may indeed see a day where not only is paying for abortion unthinkable but so is abortion.
Praying alongside you,
Director of Advocacy
- – [NOTE: Since the writing of this article the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals has reversed the lower court and allowed the Protect Life Rule to go into effect.]