Archive for Thursday, April 23, 2009

Sebelius vetoes legislation to further regulate abortion

April 23, 2009, 9:57 a.m. Updated April 23, 2009, 5:50 p.m.


— Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a bill Thursday that would have rewritten Kansas’ restrictions on late-term abortions, perhaps complicating her effort to win confirmation as U.S. health and human services secretary.

Sebelius questioned whether the bill was constitutional and suggested it would cause “intimidation” of doctors.

Anti-abortion groups backed the bill and were watching Sebelius’ action closely as she awaits U.S. Senate confirmation to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Abortion opponents have been the most vocal critics of her appointment by President Barack Obama.

“With her nomination literally hanging out there to be resolved, I’m just shocked that she would be so blatant in the face of Americans and senators who’ve already expressed reservations,” Tony Perkins, president of the conservative Family Research Council, said in an interview.

Under the bill, physicians would have been required to report additional information to the state about the late-term abortions they perform, and prosecutors in multiple counties could pursue criminal charges over potentially illegal late-term procedures.

Also, doctors could have faced lawsuits if their patients later believed a late-term abortion violated the law. A woman’s husband or a girl’s parent or guardian also could file a lawsuit.

“The governor once again showed leadership in representing the great majority of Kansans who support reasonable restrictions while assuring access to health care,” Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said in a statement.

Criminal prosecution

In a veto message to legislators, Sebelius argued that doctors could face criminal prosecutions even if they tried to comply with the law. Physicians, she said, should not face future prosecutions if they are trying to save a woman’s life or health.

“The provisions in this bill that would allow for the criminal prosecution of a physician intending to comply with the law will lead to the intimidation of health care providers and reduce access to comprehensive health care for women, even when it is necessary to preserve their lives and health,” Sebelius wrote in the veto message.

Anti-abortion legislators in Kansas are likely to try to override the veto. The Legislature returns Wednesday from its annual spring break.

Her veto came as anti-abortion and other conservative groups have stepped up pressure in Washington on senators to reject her nomination.

Before the veto, Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, issued a statement saying “significant questions” remained about Sebelius’ stance on late-term abortions.

“The Senate should not vote, nor should Gov. Sebelius be confirmed, until these questions are answered fully and completely,” Steele said.

Both the White House and Sebelius spokeswoman Beth Martino declined to respond to Steele’s comments.

Meanwhile, Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican, continued to face strong pressure to back away from a previous endorsement of Sebelius. Spokesman Brian Hart declined to comment on whether the veto would cause Brownback to rethink his position.

But Brownback said in a statement: “I’m disappointed. I’m not surprised. I would have signed that bill.”

Legal analysis

In her veto message, Sebelius said she has worked as governor to reduce unwanted pregnancies and that abortions in Kansas have declined more than 10 percent since she took office in 2003 — a point that nettles abortion opponents, who say she deserves no credit for the drop.

“I am confident that with a more united effort to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, combined with creating conditions that provide support and assistance for mothers and their babies, we will have even greater success reducing abortions in our state,” Sebelius said.

She said the bill would not have reduced abortions and probably would be struck down by the federal courts. She cited a 1997 decision by a federal appeals court in an Ohio case and said the Kansas bill had language similar to what that decision rejected.

The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life disputed her legal analysis, saying a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a Nebraska case allows the language in the bill.

Sebelius vetoed a bill with similar provisions last year, but there are key differences with this year’s measure. The 2008 bill would have allowed lawsuits to block late-term abortions beforehand.

Kansas law says late-term abortions can be performed on viable fetuses after the 21st week of pregnancy only if a woman or girl faces death or “substantial and irreversible” harm to a major bodily function, including her mental health. Doctors must file a report on each late-term abortion and must obtain a second opinion from an independent physician before performing the procedure.

Previously, the pursuit of criminal charges over illegal abortions has been limited to the attorney general or prosecutors in counties where abortions are performed. This year’s measure allowed charges from a prosecutor in any county in which an act related to the abortion occurred.

Supporters argued that the bill didn’t change state policies on late-term abortions so much as it strengthened their enforcement. Critics said the real goal was to restrict access to abortions.


frank mcguinness 9 years ago

Wow, $300+ million dollar budget gap and this is all we can focus on.

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

Abort your future tax payers and we get budget gaps. Yeah...we can focus on this...lives are way more important than money don't you think?

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

Well ab/ri, Since the federal gov't says it's legal, It should be a battle for another time.

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

rooster...the federal gov't may say it's legal, but they are asking for a bigger battle right now with FOCA in the wings...the Obamacaust has begun.

KansasVoter 9 years ago

You anti-choice zealots are too much. "Obamacaust"? You people really need to reevaluate your tactics, because you're not changing any minds with your juvenile name-calling and lies.

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

Kansas...I'm a voice of one in this context. I am not calling any names, just using a new term to apply what I see happening...there are eerie similarities. I do have that right...I believe you would call it the first amendment and it applies to me too. Guess it touched a nerve because you are so defensive...that alone confirms that I must be on the right track dude.

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

logicsound...You are rationalizing and thinking there is some middle ground. There is no middle ground on this issue.

I don't care what tactic it takes. Be offended. Call me names. Spit in my face. Get over the tactics. The truth is...late term abortion is murder. Plain and simple. The baby is done in the 2nd and 3rd trimester...delivered then is killed by inserting an instrument into the base of the brain killing the baby.

Don't be ignorant.

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

"There is no middle ground on this issue"

Comments like this are exactly why we pro-choice supporters can't give you an inch..

Like the taliban in pakistan... Give them sharia law they try to take over the country.

To quote yourself ab/ri "eerie similarities"

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

We had over 4,000 Jews killed per day from 1933-1945, we call that the Holocaust.

2,973 people died on 9/11 and we were stunned to silence and grief as an entire nation.

If we were killing 4,000 Muslims, Israelis or Palestinians per day, we'd have a holy war.

4,000 abortions are performed every day and we don't blink and eye because it's done in the secret death chambers of the likes of George Tiller.

If I offend you...good. Maybe it will shake you out of your narcissistic stupor.

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

rooster...sharia law? Isn't that what we have now with the Democrats in power? Hmmm? I fail to see the relevance of this. The pro-life crowd isn't out shooting the pro-choice crowd.

I don't expect an inch from you. I expect you will come to your senses one day and look at the other side like some of us have. Then you will find there is no middle ground. Murder is matter what the law books say.

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

You guys are like the American Taliban.

Let's distort the truth.

Are these 4000 late term abortions every day??

How about you try to keep the conversation in perspective.

So in all reality there are 3990 not humans aborted every day and possibly 10 late term abortions, all of which are only done within the law, usually because the health of the baby or mother is in danger.

While we are on the topic of compassion for human life please tell us haw many unwanted children you have adopted? crickets

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

"I fail to see the relevance of this."

It's just you folks trying to push your non-scientific/religious agenda on a secular country.

"The pro-life crowd isn't out shooting the pro-choice crowd."


No, you only shoot the people at the "legal clinics"

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

There a 1 million abortions performed per year on fetuses that would have become working, tax-paying adults. That averages out to 4,000 per day.

I have offered to adopt one unwanted child that I was aware of in the past two years. It was a jerk boyfriend that pressured the girl to abort.

I'd adopt a thousand kids before I'd let one die. Don't try to blow that dust in my eyes you idiot. How about you?

Stop before you make a bigger ass of yourself.

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

Great so your anti-abortion position is based on tax revenue. Your answer does not suprise me.

So you offered to prevent an abortion. I commend you for that. So how bout all those kids in the system, alive right now without a caring parent.

As for myself, My wife and I will adopt a child someday but not to prevent abortions but to provide care and compassion for a "living child".

"I'd adopt a thousand kids before I'd let one die."

If your statement is true you are failing miserably. Time for a new gameplan.

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

Rooster...I'm not letting you off the hook. How many have you offered to adopt? If you are going to hold me to that standard, you'd better be right there beside me.

My life experience has lead my position more than my religious affiliation. Sit with someone you love who had an abortion years ago and you will see suffering more than you can imagine. There are 3 other experiences that shaped my view and got me diving into a lot more. Unfortunately, the ONLY people studying the effects of abortion are the pro-life crowd.

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

"Rooster…I'm not letting you off the hook. How many have you offered to adopt? If you are going to hold me to that standard, you'd better be right there beside me."

Hilarious, I am not the one trying to increase the amount of unwanted kids, so don't try to hold me to your standard. I am pro-choice. The day I try to force someone to have an unwanted pregnancy you are welcome to hold me to "YOUR" standard.

If your standard is compassion for all human life then walk the walk. If you can't then maybe you should re-evaluate your postion on choice.

absolutelyridiculous 9 years ago

rooster...I believe you asked the question how many did I offer to adopt. I told you. I guess you are the one who's setting the standard. Nice try though. You're in hypocrisy is not surprising coming from the save the trees but kill the children crowd.

I won't reconsider. I will keep on you until you reconsider. You arguments are shallow with no substance. But then again, I expect that from your crowd.

frank mcguinness 9 years ago

Hipocrisy, lmao,

Thats the problem with the anti-abortion taliban. You say you have compassion for life but only when it is unborn. Once a child is born you deny them schip and other services in life.

You say one thing then do another. What a joke. Do you give to any charitable causes for children? Have you gone to childrens mercy to offer a kidney to a dying kid.

But I thought you cared about the children. Your compassion for life.

No, you have not! Cause its all B.S. coming out of your mouth.

My original question as to how many kids you have adopted is just to point out your hipocrisy.

You and your ilk always talk the talk but never walk the walk. Big hat, no cattle. I can keep going but you get the picture.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years ago

The fact that the pro-abortion crowd views a developing fetus as nothing more than a blob of cells makes me worry about how much they value those humans that survived the womb. After all, aren't you and I also just blobs of cells?

RonBurgandy 9 years ago

Wow people keep up the war of semantics. Pro-abortion? Please, no one is pro-abortion. You devalue any argument you have when you obviously can't handle the fact that people have opposing views without calling the other side something they are not.

She vetoed the bill.

KansasVoter 9 years ago

Liberty_One (Anonymous) says… "Hmm, like how extending rights to gays to marry devalues marriage huh?"

You people never stop with your lies and false equivalencies, do you? Gay marriage does nothing to devalue marriage. Divorce does EVERYTHING to devalue marriage. Until you oppose divorce your opposition to gay marriage is just bigoted homophobia.


SettingTheRecordStraight (Anonymous) says… "The fact that the pro-abortion crowd views a developing fetus as nothing more than a blob of cells makes me worry about how much they value those humans that survived the womb. After all, aren't you and I also just blobs of cells?"

You are possibly the most ignorant person in the state of Kansas.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years ago


Waiting for some rational explanation of your comment. Or is it just easier to throw around terms like "ignorant" when you have an indefensible position?

Kryptenx 9 years ago

STRS- There is a huge difference between a small group of cells that cannot function on its own and a person, which is a complex composition of a myriad of cell systems each carrying out a specific function. For your argument about cells to be taken seriously, you would have to advocate that we grant rights to all cells, which would outlaw the majority of medications on the market. You assume that there is no differentiation between a group of cells and a developed human, which is obviously false.

dweezil222 9 years ago

I generally support abortion rights, but I can understand the argument to ban late-term abortions. The process is rather brutal, and there's no reason a woman can't make the decision to do it before the fetus is more thoroughly developed. Obvious exceptions would have to be made in instances where the health of the mother is being harmed.

The problem with this law would have been the tremendous difficulty of adjudicating the lawsuits it would have produced. You would have had rampant in-court quibbling about whether the doctor's opinion that a woman's health was at stake was sincere or not, or whether the specific risk was enough tp justify the abortion. Laws are supposed to tell those they effect, relatively unequivocally, what they can and cannot do. This one would have provided little guidance, and possibly could have been struck as unconstitutionally vague.

feeble 9 years ago

More than six in 10 abortions occur within the first eight weeks of pregnancy, and almost three in 10 take place at six weeks or earlier.

These are the findings of Rachel Jones, of the Guttmacher Institute.

Centerville 9 years ago

Sebelius' new nickname is 'Murder Inc' for a reason.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 12 months ago

I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that life begins at conception and nothing will change my mind about that. I also know that Debby Reynolds was told by her doctor when she was seven months pregnant that the baby was dead. She was forced to carry that dead baby for two months and give birth to a dead child. I can imagine the horror and grief that she felt. It would have been kinder to go ahead and take the baby. It died in the womb, so how was that an abortion? If you take this as an academic exercise to see who can out word who, you fail to see the human stories behind the numbers.

Tex 8 years, 12 months ago

Here's the position I can not understand, and I'd honestly like someone to explain it to me: "abortion should be safe, legal and rare." If there is nothing wrong with abortion, if it is a positive thing, if it is, indeed, one element of "reproductive health," why should it be rare? Gov. Sebelius' position is that she is personally opposed to abortion; why is she personally opposed to it? For the record, I used to be an abortion rights supporter.

dweezil222 8 years, 12 months ago

Consider the argument from this point (while acknowledging that this argument requires that one consider life to begin at some point after conception): Permitting abortion forces no one to undergo one, and thus infringes on no one's rights, while banning it would infringe the rights of those who would seek to procure an abortion.

davidsmom 8 years, 12 months ago

Murdering unborn children does not qualify as "healthcare."

Tex 8 years, 12 months ago

Merrill said:

"Good for Gov. Sebelius … a bold and smart person.

How to regulate and reduce abortions:…"

With all due respect, your suggestions haven't worked yet. How and why would you regulate abortion? If a baby isn't a person until he or she is born, why shouldn't it be open season for enterprising doctors? Lastly, PP just honored Hillary Clinton with its highest honor, the Margaret Sanger award. If you're not familiar with the work of Margaret Sanger, please use The Google and look up "Margaret Sanger" and "eugenics." I'm reading her book "The Pivot of Civilization"; essentially she promoted the idea that it is in the public interest for the government to decide who should and should not be allowed to have children. You may laugh whenever you see a "Stupid People Shouldn't Breed" bumper sticker...until the government decides that you are stupid. Human weeds, unite!!

Jeanne Cunningham 8 years, 12 months ago

Abortions are like tatoos - if YOU don't want one, don't get one...

chicklet 8 years, 12 months ago

the state of kansas already uses something like 2 billion dollars to fund abstinence only sex education...leading to a greater need for abortions.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 8 years, 12 months ago

absolutelyridiculous (Anonymous) says…

"There is no middle ground on this issue."

And it is just that very sentiment deeply lodged in the argument from you and the anti-choice movement that guarantees that you will never even get to first base on this issue. Over half the people in this country disagree with you, yet you see no room to even attempt to negotiate. That approach will always fail.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 12 months ago

Kathy seems to be trying to use up all in ink in her veto pen before she heads to DC.

frank mcguinness 8 years, 12 months ago

chicklet (Anonymous) says…

the state of kansas already uses something like 2 billion dollars to fund abstinence only sex education…leading to a greater need for abortions

Chicklet just won the award for the dumbest kansan ever. 2 Billion Dollars. LMAO.

Tex 8 years, 12 months ago

"Consider the argument from this point (while acknowledging that this argument requires that one consider life to begin at some point after conception): Permitting abortion forces no one to undergo one, and thus infringes on no one's rights, while banning it would infringe the rights of those who would seek to procure an abortion."

Thanks, you defend the "safe and legal" part but that still doesn't answer the big question: why should it be rare?

wheatridge 8 years, 12 months ago

LS4 "Of course, I have suspected for a long time that the heart of the issue isn't really about stopping abortions, but rather about having control."

Are you about anything but control?

"it's about the rush of confrontation." Autobiographical?

"screaming from the street corners about needing to change . . . why do they continue to take that approach? " One could ask you the same question about the volume of your posts?

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