Archive for Saturday, May 2, 1998


May 2, 1998


Did anyone in state government know exactly what they were doing when they approved a ban on late-term abortions in Kansas?

Remarks by Gov. Bill Graves on Friday concerning a bill banning late-term abortions in Kansas offer a sad commentary on the state's legislative process.

During his weekly news conference, Graves asserted that 90 percent of Kansas legislators didn't understand the abortion regulation bill they passed. Confusion over the bill has ignited a firestorm between pro- and anti-abortion rights advocates, Graves said, and it's likely he'll talk to Atty. Gen Carla Stovall about bringing a legal challenge to the law just to clarify it. Is this a genuine concern or an effort to cover all the political bases?

The issue in question, Graves said, is whether the bill permits late-term abortions if a woman would suffer severe and permanent mental problems if she couldn't get an abortion. Graves said the exemption was a major factor in his decision to sign the bill Monday. The bill corrects a flaw in the current law, which doesn't include that exemption and is, therefore, unconstitutional, Graves said.

Graves added that the current argument over the bill ``tells me with 100 percent confidence that 90 percent of the Legislature didn't know what they were voting on.'' It would be interesting to know whether legislators agree with that assessment.

So, according to Graves, a majority of legislators didn't know what they were voting on, and the governor signed a bill into law even though he already believes it needs to be clarified in a legal challenge.

Whether or not you approve of the late abortion ban, the process by which it became law doesn't seem to reflect credit on anyone involved.

It's about time

The Federal Aviation Administration's interest in radar problems at Kansas International Airport should be welcomed by area travelers.

Travelers flying in and out of Kansas City International Airport will be glad to know that glitches in the facility's air traffic control system finally have gotten the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration. Control of KCI flights is being switched to a tower in Olathe from 9 p.m. today to 8 a.m. Sunday to give FAA officials a chance to perform diagnostic testing on equipment in the KCI control tower. While they're at it, they'll be performing some preventive maintenance on the system.

It's about time. The radar at KCI went down three times last month and was out for a total of 21.5 hours. Each time, KCI switched to the backup system in Olathe. The national average for airports using such backup systems is 62.4 hours a year, and the FAA says the safety at KCI has never been compromised. Nonetheless, area travelers must be relieved that the FAA believes the problems at the KCI tower need to be investigated and remedied.

The bad news is that when power is restored to the KCI tower on Sunday, the experts fear all systems may not immediately go back into operation. That could mean some ground and airborne delays for weekend travelers.

Better a few delays, though, than a disastrous accident. Directing air traffic at a major airport is nerve-wracking enough if everything is working properly. KCI and FAA officials need to do everything they can to make sure air traffic controllers at the airport have a reliable radar system at their disposal.

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