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Rothlisberg claims quote about OB/GYN services was misconstrued



January 21, 2014
A quote attributed to State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg about women's reproductive health services is making the rounds on social media and upsetting many women's advocates.

However, Rothlisberg (R-Grandview Plaza) said Tuesday the quote's been twisted and is way off from his intended meaning.

The quote first surfaced Jan. 14 just hours after a House Standing Committee on Commerce, Labor and Economic Development meeting.

Several people who attended the meeting apparently told others Rothlisberg said something to the effect of women older than 50 years no longer need gynecological care.

"I never even came close to that," he said Tuesday in a phone interview.

Rothlisberg said the committee was discussing the Promoting Employment Across Kansas Program, or "PEAK."

The program's website states: "PEAK is intended to encourage economic development in Kansas by incenting companies to relocate, locate or expand business operations and jobs in Kansas."

As part of the program's requirements, if a company is approved, then it must make available to its full-time employees "'adequate' health insurance coverage ... and be paying at least 50 percent of the premium," the website states.

At some point, the conversation turned to the Affordable Care Act and Rothlisberg chimed in.

"I brought up the fact that with the tremendous increase of the Affordable Care Act by forcing businesses to provide mandated coverages that their employees neither want nor need," he said. "I said, 'No, that's not right. Somebody shouldn't be paying for services they neither want nor need.'

"I did come out and say a man should not be required to pay extra premiums for a woman, for example, for OB/GYN," he said. "I never said a woman should not have the coverage."

How Rothlisberg explained his quote isn't how others interpreted it.

An indirect quote from Rothlisberg first appeared on Twitter Jan. 14 through a post from Haley Pollock, communications director for Kansas House Minority Leader Paul Davis.

Pollock tweeted: "Rep. Rothlisberg claimed during committee today that women do not need gynecological care after age 50. Sigh. #Ksleg officially in session."

Pollock did not attend the committee meeting, but wasn't the only person to have been told of Rothlisberg's comment.

The Twitter account for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri also tweeted Rothlisberg's comment, though their version varied from Pollock's.

In the organization's tweet, Rothlisberg is directly quoted as saying, "Women over 50 don't need gynecological services anymore."

A representative of the organization later stated via Twitter that they also weren't at the meeting, but "had heard about it via another lobbyist who was."

To find out exactly what was said, The Daily Union is attempting to acquire a recording of the meeting through the Open Records Act. A recording had not been received as of Wednesday.

Minutes for the meeting aren't expected to be published online until next week, according to the Legislative Administrative Services office.

The whole ordeal about the quote, Rothlisberg said, may have been started by a political group.

"So what you have here is, obviously, the Kansas National (Organization) of Women, being a political group, they're going to do whatever they can to stir up the hornet's pot, so to speak, the hornet's nest," he said. "And, if they have to lie, that's perfectly fine with them."

Rothlisbeg explained that what he said may have been a poor choice of an example to get his intended point across.

"That was a bad example — and I will bite the bullet on that one," he said. "I should have been a little more concise on that. But at no time did I ever say anybody should not ever have healthcare."

He added the direct quotes floating around online, including one attached to a photo of him, are fabrications.

Rothlisberg also said other legislators who were at the meeting have backed him since word of his purported comment has spread.

"They said they never heard that said," he said. "And they were there."

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