Topeka State regulators may adopt new rules for all minor surgeries performed at doctor's offices and clinics, upsetting abortion opponents who are close to winning similar rules only for abortion clinics.
"It's so obvious what is going on here," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group. "They waited until the abortion clinic bill is breathing down their necks -- and breathing down their necks with veto-proof majorities in both houses."
The State Board of Healing Arts, which regulates doctors, planned to meet at 7 p.m. today to discuss rules for so-called office-based surgeries. In 2003, the board adopted guidelines as suggested standards for doctors and clinics and will decide whether to impose them as regulations.
Meanwhile, legislators are close to approving a bill setting minimum health and safety standards specifically for abortion clinics and requiring them to obtain an annual license from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who supports abortion rights, has said repeatedly she probably will veto the clinic regulation bill if it singles out abortion.
The board's timing in discussing regulations for office-based surgeries struck anti-abortion activists, including Culp, as suspicious. Even Sen. John Vratil, R-Leawood, who opposes the measure, said board action would give Sebelius a reason to veto the abortion clinic regulation bill.
"It gives her all the political cover she needs," he said Monday.
But Larry Buening, the board's executive director, said it has been working on regulations for office-based surgeries for nearly three years. Previously, the board adopted guidelines developed by the Kansas Medical Society and the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Jerry Slaughter, the medical society's executive director, said the group supported having the board set regulations on office-based surgeries, based on guidelines from medical professionals.
"They really establish a standard of care," Slaughter said. "They might as well be as regulations."
Lawmakers also are reviewing a proposed "Child Rape Protection Act," requiring doctors and clinics to save fetal tissue when performing abortions on girls under 14. The clinics would have to submit the tissue to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for DNA testing, so that a rapist could be identified.
Sebelius hasn't taken a position on the other measure, but it, like the clinic bill, is pushed by abortion opponents.
The Senate approved the clinic bill Friday on a 27-12 vote, giving supporters exactly the two-thirds majority they'd need to override a veto.