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A Moderate Referral
Barbara Bollier is a retired anesthesiologist, a former bioethics instructor at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, and a Republican representing the 25th District in the Kansas House of Representatives. (Her constituency includes Fairway and parts of Prairie Village, Overland Park, Mission Hills and Westwood Hills.) A moderate, Bollier voted against the anti-abortion bills that the House passed in the 2012 session. The Pitch caught up with her to get her take on recent legislation.
The Pitch: You were one of the few local Republicans who opposed House Bills 62 and 313. You even introduced two amendments to 313 that were voted down. Why did you introduce those amendments?
Bollier: If you get an abortion in Kansas, you receive a handout from the state with information on it about abortion. In 313, they're adding a lot of language to that handout. It's this very extensive embryological saga about the development of the fetus: On this day the heart develops, on this day the lungs develop, etc. It's all accurate information, as long as it's related to a normal pregnancy. And I felt like — I know — that some women are choosing to terminate a pregnancy because the fetus is not developing normally, in which case that information is inaccurate. So all I wanted to add was a sentence that said, "The following description of fetal development refers to normal pregnancy. If your doctor has diagnosed a fetal anomaly, you can access more information on such conditions either from your physician or the NIH website."
I approached members of the committee and was told they wouldn't support it. So I asked the secretary of health to look at my amendments, and he agreed that they were reasonable, and he went to the committee and informed them that the KDHE [Kansas Department of Health and Environment] supported it. But the leader of the committee refused to include it.
Are you referring to Rep. Lance Kinzer?
Yes. So I brought the amendment to the House, and everybody followed the leader and voted it down. It was very disappointing to me. There's no reason not to have that in there. When you're making a decision about whether to terminate or carry a pregnancy, you need all the information you can get — from both sides. It's hard for me to understand because these amendments were helping make women more medically informed. They claim that these bills are about what's best for women in Kansas, but in situations like this, that's not true, in my view.
H.B. 313 also would have required physicians to inform patients that abortions cause breast cancer, which is scientifically unproved.
Clearly the intent is to scare women. There is some statistical evidence that women who have a miscarriage, or never become pregnant at all, may have an increased risk of breast cancer. But there's no research or data about the causes and effects. Nothing has been proved. With that, they're trying to extrapolate that idea to include terminated pregnancies, which doesn't make sense medically. There are many different causes for losing a pregnancy, and we don't know how any of it relates to breast cancer. I'm getting kind of medical here. But that's the point! Why are people trying to practice medicine in the Legislature? You start to get into some complex medical terminology, statistics, etc. That's what doctors are supposed to do, not state legislatures.