TOPEKA (KSNT)— A bill banning providers from prescribing medications, like the abortion pill, over telemedicine and another restricting the power of the Secretary of Health has passed in Kansas.
Senate Bill 5, which would prohibit the prescribing of drugs intended to cause an abortion, passed with a vote of 27 to 12. The bill also restricts the governor’s power to alter such laws during a state of emergency.
During hearings, proponent testimony was provided by Senator Mark Steffen, a Republican from Hutchinson, who introduced the bill. Steffen, along with other supporters of the legislation, stated the objective of the bill is to clarify terminology in the Kansas Telemedicine Act to prohibit the use of telemedicine to prescribe drugs intended to cause an abortion.
Democrats believe the bill ignores a historic vote in last year’s August Primary, where the majority of Kansas voters voted to uphold abortion rights.
Another bill, Senate Bill 6, passed 22 to 18. The bill would restrict the authority of the Secretary of Health and Environment and local health officers to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
During hearings, Steffen also spoke in support of the bill, stating that the objective of the bill was to remove the ability of the Secretary of Health and Environment and local county officers to restrict individuals freedom of movement and shift their role to one of making recommendations and educating the public.
Opponents highlighted the concern that they would be unable to act in cases of public health concern such as a meningitis or an Ebola outbreak because the notification system is to state offices who then coordinate with the local health officials.
Both bills move to the House.