Barbara Bollier doesn’t mind playing defense. Having served as a moderate Republican in the conservative Kansas House since 2009, Bollier concedes she’s “very definitely sidelined, but that doesn’t mean my voice isn’t heard in this state.” An anesthesiologist who worked on bioethics policy before taking office, Bollier has sought to offer a corrective voice when well-intentioned but scientifically dubious bills have come before the health committee. “She contributes essential science-based knowledge to legislative debates,” The Kansas City Star wrote last year in endorsing her bid for re-election.
Bollier went into politics out of concern legislators were interfering with the practice of medicine. Her biggest success came early in her tenure, when she helped pass a bill that banned indoor smoking throughout the state. She has been frustrated as she’s watched her colleagues pass numerous restrictions on abortion, and is concerned about “right to try” legislation that would allow terminal patients to take drugs that haven’t won federal approval. But a lot of the time, she says she’s just glad when she’s able to stop poorly written legislation from proceeding. “There have been plenty of bills that have not gone through as they initially appeared, or at all, because of my questions.”