Topeka In public comments, Gov. Sam Brownback repeatedly talks about the state's budget struggles.
But Brownback, a Republican, said Thursday he stands by his decision to sign into law three controversial measures related to abortion that will cost Kansans big bucks to defend.
"You can't know for sure what all comes out of that afterwards, but it was the will of the Legislature and the people of the state of Kansas," he said in response to a question about the wisdom of signing into law abortion laws that have landed the state in court.
This week, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten of Wichita rejected a request to suspend an order blocking Kansas from denying about $330,000 in federal health care dollars to Planned Parenthood.
While the funds are for non-abortion services, the measure was pushed by anti-abortion legislators who say any tax funding of Planned Parenthood is wrong because the organization does do abortions.
Attorney General Derek Schmidt, also a Republican, has hired the high-dollar firm of Foulston Siefkin to represent the state in that lawsuit. Four attorneys alone in that case are each charging the state $300 per hour, according to the contract for legal services.
Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union sued to block another law signed by Brownback that will prohibit private insurance policies from covering abortion costs, unless the procedure is needed to save the life of the woman.
“This law is part of a nationwide trend to take away insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure that is an important part of basic health care for women,” said Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “Many things can happen in a pregnancy that are beyond a woman’s control, so having insurance coverage for abortion ensures that every woman can get the health care she may need.”
But Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for Kansans for Life, said the ACLU lawsuit was "an attempt to test the resolve of legislators and the new Attorney General, Derek Schmidt. It is calculated to plant doubts in the citizenry about the soundness and need for pro-life laws by sowing discord about legal expenses, and by raising the same tired old arguments and incorrect comparisons."
And the state faces another federal lawsuit brought by two other abortion providers who are challenging new licensing regulations. Schmidt has hired private attorneys in that case too.
Brownback defended all three measures, saying they were passed with bi-partisan support in the Legislature. "We'll see it on through," he said.