Topeka Anti-abortion legislators are using a different process in an effort to push proposals to rewrite Kansas laws regulating late-term abortions through the Legislature quickly.
They’re trying to revive parts of a bill vetoed last year and have up-or-down votes in the House and Senate on the new version, without committee hearings or giving legislators an option to offer amendments. They’re hoping the new version has enough support that they’ll be able to override a potential veto by Gov. Mark Parkinson, an abortion rights Democrat.
Three senators and three House members are set to meet Monday to discuss the legislation. It’s certain to include requirements that doctors include more detailed information about the late-term procedures performed in state reports. It also could include provisions to allow patients — or their families — who have evidence that their abortions violated state law to sue the doctors who performed them.
The all-but-certain result of the negotiations is that a minor utilities bill will be transformed into major anti-abortion legislation. Senate negotiators Pat Apple, of Louisburg, and Mike Petersen, of Wichita, both Republicans, are the chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Utilities Committee.
The negotiators shrug off questions about the process. Taking a bill on one subject, stripping out its contents and replacing them with something different is common enough that legislators have a term for it — “gut and go.”
“We’re just so used to doing it that we don’t even think about it,” said the House’s lead negotiator, Rep. Melvin Neufeld, an Ingalls Republican, a 24-year veteran of the Legislature.
But the process bothers both abortion opponents and abortion right advocates outside the Legislature.
Anti-abortion legislators defend their tactics, noting that the language has been lifted word-for-word from last year’s bill. Also, time is drawing short in the annual session: Saturday was the 69th day, out of 90 scheduled.