This evening, Governor Sam Brownback said that “the days of ever expanding government are over,” except he wants to expand government to dictate what women do with their own bodies. “It’s disappointing and hypocritical at best,” said Julie Burkhart, Founder and Director of Trust Women, an organization that works to protect the human rights and dignity of all pregnant women. She went on to say that, “It is crystal clear that Governor Brownback’s words mean nothing less than stiff opposition to pregnant women’s rights.”

Ms. Burkhart continued, “Following Roe in 1973, the U.S. saw an extraordinary improvement in women’s health with the legalization of abortion – but all this progress, specifically access to maternity care and abortion care, is under increasing attack.” Burkhart continued, “This trend must be reversed and the rights of women must be respected. Doing so will result in more favorable health outcomes for women and their children. This is how we create a so-called culture of life.”

Maternal care and abortion rights are intertwined—more than 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers. Despite this, a woman’s human rights—her right to make medical decisions, her right to religious freedom, her right to personal dignity—all increasingly take a back seat to efforts to re-criminalize abortion. It’s harder to end a pregnancy than it was 20 years ago due to the barriers women must overcome to access these services.

“This continuing campaign against women is unacceptable and un-American,” Burkhart said.

“The simple truth is that the same women who have abortions are already mothers or will most likely become mothers,” Burkhart said, “It is imperative that we value these women, these mothers and ensure that they have full access to all of the maternal and reproductive health care services they need. America should do nothing less for the sake of women and their families.”

Useful statistics to illustrate the state of women’s health:

  1. According to Amnesty International, the United States spends more than any other country on health care, yet women here have a higher risk of dying due to pregnancy-related complications than women in 40 other countries.
  2. The Washington Post recently reported a rise in teen pregnancy rates, despite the $1.5 billion spent on abstinence-only programs over the past decade.
  3. Kaiser Family Foundation reports that Kansas ranks 33 out of 51 for teen birth rates; that’s 45.6 per 1,000.
  4. According to a 2008 Guttmacher study, out of the 590,200 Kansas women, 310,560 are in need of contraceptive care and supplies.
  5. According to the National Women’s Law Center 2010 Kansas Report Card, the state received an “F” for the percentage of women without health insurance and an “S-“ (satisfactory minus) for the maternal mortality rate.
  6. Statehealthfacts.org reports that the number of children under 18 living in poverty is at 22%.