Kansas Governor Vetoes Bills to Ban Sex Changes for Minors, Coerced Abortions

Some Republican lawmakers have already indicated they will try to override the vetoes.

Kansas State Capitol
Kansas State Capitol (photo: Shutterstock)

Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed legislation that would have prevented doctors from performing transgender surgeries and providing gender-transition drugs to children. Kelly also vetoed a bill that would criminalize coerced abortions. 

According to the governor, she vetoed the sex-change restrictions because she believes they would restrict parental rights. She said she vetoed the ban on coerced abortion because the language was too vague. 

Some Republican lawmakers have already indicated they will try to override the vetoes. The Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers of the Kansas Legislature, which provides the party with enough votes to override a governor’s veto if most Republican members vote for the override.

The legislation that prohibits transgender drugs and surgery on minors would ban doctors from providing any type of surgical intervention on anyone under 18 that is intended to facilitate a gender transition. It would also prohibit the prescription of puberty blockers, hormone treatments, or any other drug to facilitate the gender transition of a minor. 

Per the legislation, a health-care professional in violation of the proposed law would have had his or her license revoked. The health professional would also have been liable for civil damages if the minor developed any physical, psychological, emotional or psychological harm from the operations or drugs up to 10 years after the minor turns 18. 

In a statement accompanying her veto, Kelly said the bill “tramples parental rights.”

“This divisive legislation targets a small group of Kansans by placing government mandates on them and dictating to parents how to best raise and care for their children,” the governor said. “I do not believe that is a conservative value, and it’s certainly not a Kansas value.”

Republican House Speaker Daniel Hawkins criticized the governor’s veto, claiming that the procedures and drugs are experimental and should not be given to children. 

“As we watch other states, nations, and organizations reverse course on these experimental procedures on children, Laura Kelly will most surely find herself on the wrong side of history with her reckless veto of this commonsense protection for Kansas minors,” Hawkins said. 

The legislation to prohibit coercive abortions would have made it a felony to engage “in coercion” against a woman while knowing she is pregnant “with the intent to compel such woman to obtain an abortion when such woman has expressed her desire to not obtain an abortion.”

According to the proposal, coercion would have included physical restraint, physical threats, financial threats, abuse or threatening abuse of the legal system, and extortion, among other acts.

In her veto message, Kelly said she agreed “that no one should be coerced into undergoing a medical procedure against their will” but argued that “it is already a crime to threaten violence against another individual.”

“I am concerned with the vague language in this bill and its potential to intrude upon private, often difficult, conversations between a person and their family, friends, and health care providers,” the governor said. “This overly broad language risks criminalizing Kansans who are being confided in by their loved ones or simply sharing their expertise as a health care provider.”

Hawkins criticized the governor’s veto and said Republican lawmakers “are ready to override her radical stance” and “protect Kansas women.”

“It’s a sad day for Kansas when the governor’s uncompromising support of abortion won’t even allow her to advocate for trafficking and abuse victims who are coerced into the procedure,” Hawkins said in a statement. “Coercion is wrong, no matter the circumstance, and Laura Kelly’s veto is a step too far for commonsense Kansans.”

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