LAWRENCE, Kan. (WDAF) — The raging debate over abortion legislation in Kansas is getting personal.
On Wednesday, a woman based in Lawrence spoke out, and a lawmaker from Johnson County apologized for insulting her in an email exchange.
Messages given to WDAF show Jaclyn Anderson, who works for a nonprofit in Douglas County, was called “triggered,” “ridiculous,” and “someone who uses drugs to cope.”
There all comments made by Kansas state Rep. Sean Tarwater (R-Stillwell) in a series of five emails between the two people.
“In my opinion, he’s very anti-woman,” Anderson said.
Anderson wrote to Tarwater on Tuesday morning, urging him not to support proposed anti-abortion legislation. But the give-and-take with Tarwater became heated, as Tarwater called the woman names and asked her if she needed to take yoga classes to “cope with (her) anger issues.”
Anderson said although her email may have been confusing, she was merely advocating for women’s rights.
Tarwater also commented in the email messages that she struck him “as someone who uses drugs” since she hails from Lawrence.
Tarwater passed up WDAF’s offer to comment on camera, but in a text message, he pointed to the Douglas County prosecutor’s move to cease prosecuting pot possession cases, a change that took place in October 2019.
On Wednesday morning, Tarwater emailed Anderson, apologizing for his comments about her being from Lawrence.
“That was completely beyond the pale, as far as I was concerned,” Anderson told WDAF. “I'm a Kansas citizen and a voter. I was shocked this was seemingly, to him, an appropriate response to my initial e-mail. My initial e-mail had nothing to do with drugs.”
On Feb. 7, Kansas House Bill 2274 fell short of approval by four votes. The legislation, which was sponsored by Tarwater, would have required notification to abortion patients that the effects of a medication abortion may be reversible.
“I think my mother deserves a better apology than the one (Tarwater) gave,” said Madeline Anderson, Jaclyn’s daughter. “In future responses to people who don't agree with you, I hope you treat them with more respect than you gave my mother with.”
In a text message to WDAF, Tarwater explained that he was busy at the Kansas Statehouse since the state legislature is in season.
He said Anderson’s emails reminded him of those he’d previously received from a relative who was addicted to opioids, and that he was in error to jump to conclusions.
Anderson said she doesn’t believe Tarwater should be punished for his comments, and she hates that people with differing opinions can’t get along better than this.