Kansas Republican lawmakers want to create a generous tax credit to encourage donations to crisis pregnancy centers as the state’s anti-abortion movement continues to face defeat from a state constitutional amendment that would have allowed an abortion ban.
A Senate Tax Committee ruling would allow taxpayers to receive a 70 percent tax credit on donations to centers that oppose abortion. More than 50 centers operate across the state, according to Kansans for Life, the state’s leading anti-abortion group.
The tax credit program, which would be limited to $10 million annually, has the potential to be a financial boon to the centers, some of which currently receive a total of $339,000 annually in state grants and awards. Taxpayers would be allowed to carry the credit forward for up to five years if the size of the gift is more than their total state tax bill.
Abortion-rights advocates are critical of the proposal, offered by state Senator Caryn Tyson, a Parker Republican who chairs the committee. They say the bill as drafted would ensure that qualified centers would have to try to persuade people not to have an abortion.
“The proposed legislation encourages individuals and businesses to donate to crisis pregnancy centers and diverts funds away from legitimate, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care,” said Katie Baylie, director of legislative affairs at Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes. , in written testimony to the committee .
Planned Parenthood operates three clinics in Kansas that offer abortions: in Overland Park, Kansas City, Kansas and Wichita. Baylie said the credit would encourage individuals and businesses to donate to crisis pregnancy centers instead of non-profit groups that offer comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.
Opponents of abortion and those who run the centers said the credit would allow them to provide services to more women. The centers, they say, offer information about parenting and adoption, assistance with housing, transportation and things new parents need, like clothes, diapers and infant formula.
“The legislation you are considering, I believe would provide pregnancy clinics with a significant opportunity to increase donations to help reach more pregnant women,” Donna Kelsey, director of the Kansas City Pregnancy Clinic in KCK, told lawmakers.
Korbe Bohac, a first-time mother and client of the Insight Women’s Center in Lawrence, told lawmakers while holding her son, Winston, that she was initially unsure whether to carry the pregnancy to term and didn’t know how to raise a child. She said the lessons offered by the center helped her tremendously. From diapers to car seats, “the center makes sure I have everything I need to keep my baby safe, happy and healthy,” she said.
The proposed tax credit, which resembles programs already in place in Missouri, comes after voters in August overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to the state constitution that would have allowed the legislature to ban abortion after the Supreme Court of the United States in June annulled the federal right to abortion.
The vote cemented Kansas’ status as a stronghold of abortion access in the middle of the country as a number of mostly Southern states enacted full or near-full bans on abortion. Missouri immediately enacted a ban the day Roe fell, even though the state had already eliminated nearly all surgical abortions.
Opponents of abortion see the strengthening of crisis pregnancy centers as a way to counter Kansas’s growing role as a critical access point for abortion. In 2021, 7,849 abortions were reported in the state.
Exact statewide figures on how many people receive services from crisis pregnancy centers were not available. The Kansas City Pregnancy Clinic performed more than 225 ultrasound scans in 2022, Kelsey said.