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Archive for Friday, April 27, 2007

House adds abortion reporting requirements to budget bill

April 27, 2007

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— Three state agencies would be prohibited from spending any money unless they provided more information about abortion providers and late-term procedures under provisions added Thursday by the House to a spending bill.

Abortion opponents said the requirements are aimed at providing more-detailed information about each medical diagnosis leading to a woman receiving an abortion, which would lead to better public policy.

"Currently it is difficult to determine whether our existing laws are being followed because of lack of information available to the Legislature. We need to make sure all our laws are being adhered to," said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, sponsor of the provisions.

The provisions were attached to a House spending bill that wraps up budget issues for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius already has signed into law a $12.3 billion budget containing the bulk of the spending for state agencies. The House will take final action on the bill today.

Senators passed, 34-5, their own version of the final spending bill and await negotiations with House counterparts to reconcile differences.

The House provisions require the Department of Health and Environment to revise its forms to gather additional information about the condition of a woman and a physician's diagnosis that a late-term abortion is necessary. Currently, the forms only require the physician to check a box indicating the grounds for the abortion, such as mental health, but not the actual diagnosis.

The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services would be required to disclose any information from caseworkers that evidence of a crime against a minor had occurred and report it to law enforcement. Abortion opponents worry that doctors performing abortions on minors sometimes don't report them as evidence of sexual abuse.

Finally, the Board of Healing Arts would have to certify that there aren't any legal or financial ties between the doctor performing the abortion and a referring physician.

Abortion rights supporters were frustrated by the tactics, which would shut down all functions of three agencies.

"I am sick and tired of this. If you don't want any abortion in Kansas, then bring it on and have that debate," said Rep. Annie Kuether, D-Topeka. "I am sick and tired of you saying this isn't about abortion. Of course it is."

Kinzer said the issue was whether abortion providers and state agencies were following existing laws and not putting new restrictions in place.

The requirements come following last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a federal ban on a late-term procedure that critics call "partial-birth" abortion.

Several hundred late-term abortions are performed each year in Kansas, and a majority of them on viable fetuses. But attorneys for Dr. George Tiller, of Wichita, among the few U.S. doctors performing them, say he isn't using the banned procedure.

A 1998 Kansas law permits an abortion after the 21st week of pregnancy when a fetus is viable to save a woman's life or prevent "substantial and irreversible" harm to a "major bodily function."

The statute doesn't say abortions are allowed to preserve a woman's mental health, but both Bill Graves and Carla Stovall, the governor and attorney general when it was passed, argued it had to be assumed for the law to be constitutional.

Rep. Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, said policy makers don't know if the diagnosis by the referring physician is thorough, but that's not to suggest that illegal abortions are taking place.

"The information on the form is meaningless the way it is required by law," he said.

Comments

deec 7 years, 8 months ago

So in order to harass and potentially "protect" a few hundred women, they are willing to harm thousands of poor children already born and reliant on welfare for food, etc? They are willing to endanger the public water supply for all Kansans? Yeah, that makes sense. End sarcasm.

deec 7 years, 8 months ago

will these reporting requirements fall on physicians and hospitals who assist in live births to minors?

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 8 months ago

Good point deec. I also want to know why every abortion provider is automatically an "abortion mill". Language, people, language.

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