Archive for Friday, December 30, 2011

Kansas abortion foes not resting after victories

December 30, 2011


— Abortion opponents in Kansas aren't resting after a string of legislative victories at the start of Gov. Sam Brownback's administration, though the proposals they'll pursue most aggressively in 2012 aren't likely to be as eye-catching.

Anti-abortion leaders in the Republican-controlled Legislature said they plan to strengthen legal protections for physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals who don't want to participate in abortions or dispense abortion-inducing drugs. They hope to prevent even indirect taxpayer support for abortions and to add new requirements to a law spelling out what information doctors must provide to women seeking abortions.

Kansas enacted laws in 2011 to restrict private insurance coverage of elective abortions; require doctors to get parents' consent before terminating a minor's pregnancy, and tighten restrictions on late-term abortions based on still-disputed claims that a fetus can feel pain. Legislators also approved measures to set new rules for abortion providers on what equipment, drugs and staffing they must have on hand and prevent the state from forwarding federal family planning dollars for non-abortion services to Planned Parenthood.

Some abortion opponents anticipate interest in trying to prohibit abortion after the first detectable fetal heartbeat, as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, or banning abortion altogether through a "personhood" measure declaring that life begins when an egg is fertilized. But leading anti-abortion legislators and Kansans for Life, the group with the most visible presence at the Statehouse, want to concentrate on proposals that are far more likely to pass and making measurable gains that stand.

"This is like a good ground game in football," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, discussing its strategy of pursuing incremental legislative gains. "I don't believe that we have finished fleshing out every law that we can that is currently constitutional."

But the Legislature won't be the only venue for abortion debates. Abortion providers and abortion rights supporters are challenging the 2011 insurance law, clinic regulations and Planned Parenthood funding measure, and their lawsuits are likely to move forward in state and federal courts.

Just as in 2011, Brownback, a Republican abortion opponent, doesn't plant to propose any legislation, preferring to concentrate on fiscal issues, but he'll sign anti-abortion measures that reach his desk, spokeswoman Sherriene Jones-Sontag said. Abortion rights supporters fear a wide array of new restrictions because abortion opponents enjoy majorities in both chambers.

"The goal, bottom line, is to make sure that women are denied access," said Julie Burkhart, founder of the abortion-rights group Trust Women, a former employee of the late abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

At least a few legislators think abortion opponents should rest. Their leaders expect the coming legislative session to be crowded with other big issues, including cutting income taxes, overhauling the state's Medicaid program and rewriting its public school funding formula.

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, a Hutchinson Republican, said fellow abortion opponents had "a very good year" in 2011, and he's not encouraging more legislation.

"I'm not looking for anything else to add to a very ambitious agenda," he said.

Also, the attorney general's office said it has paid $476,000 to law firms to help with the defense of the three 2011 measures being challenged in federal and state courts.

"Do we really want to make a bunch of attorneys rich? I don't think so," Emler said. "Let's wait and see how we fare on what we've already done."

Still, abortion opponents plan to press ahead, despite early court rulings against the clinic regulations and in favor of Planned Parenthood.

"We're in court because there are people who believe in abortion at any cost, and the legislation that we passed was reasonable," said Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican who opposes abortion.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican, said he and fellow abortion opponents will push for a proposed "conscience" act to supplement a law saying no person can be required to participate in an abortion. Previous versions declared that health care professionals can't be punished by their employers for refusing to participate in abortions or dispensing abortion-inducing drugs and "artificial" birth control.

He said the goal is to prevent health care providers, including hospitals and health care companies, from having to participate in actions they find morally objectionable. But Kari Ann Rinker, state coordinator for the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women, said such changes could hinder the dispensing of common contraceptives, such as birth control pills, allowing a provider's personal religious beliefs to "trump" medical decisions.

Kinzer also is promoting legislation to add to the state's general ban on taxpayer funded abortion by declaring that companies or groups can't get tax credits or deductions against abortion-related expenditures. Burkhart believes state officials would use such a law to discourage businesses, groups and individuals from contributing to abortion-rights causes or to punish them afterward.

Pilcher-Cook said she also wants to make sure that doctors give women seeking abortions a detailed description of each potential abortion procedure, including "what it does to the unborn child."

Rinker predicted a new round of anti-abortion measures represent "a whole bunch more lawsuits."

"It's our last refuge," he said.


onceinawhile 6 years, 5 months ago

"...doesn't plant to propose any legislation..."?

Kirk Larson 6 years, 5 months ago

They are Anti-Choice. Plain and simple...minded.

Choice is the American way.

KayCee 6 years, 5 months ago

"Anti-Choice'? Wrong! "Choice is the American way". Yes, and they CHOOSE LIFE.

JustNoticed 6 years, 5 months ago

"Poor journalism" is accepting the reframing of absolutely everything without a thought about what things mean.

somebodynew 6 years, 5 months ago

And I am not sure I would classify them as "victories" until after all the court proceedings are done. They may have won this round of battles, but with all the court fights going on I don't think it is over.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 5 months ago

The courts as well as the legislatures should continue the debate. All of our freedoms, be they speech, press, religion, etc. are constantly undergoing scrutiny and refinement. Abortion should be no different.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

If one must use the terminology that advocacy groups choose for themselves, then one must use "pro-choice" when describing those groups as well.

They don't describe themselves as "pro-abortion", do they?

deec 6 years, 5 months ago

Pro life is a misnomer. Pro birth is more accurate. The rabid anti-choice crowd have no interest whatsoever in children once they are born, as evidenced by the evisceration of education and social services budgets.

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago


I was actually sort of responding to Phoenixman's assertion that we should call "anti--abortion" groups "pro-life".

If so, then we should call "pro-choice" groups that as well.

But, as is often the case, partisan politics doesn't make sense, and the same people who want their groups called "pro-life" will undoubtedly refer to "pro-choice" groups as "pro-abortion".

Oh well.

thebigspoon 6 years, 5 months ago

And, again, a quite incomplete answer to the question. And your "point" remains unproven.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 5 months ago

Democrats have probably resigned themselves to a fatalist state of mind. Victories will be small. But I worry for those of the GOP mindset. They are the haughty Romans, oblivious to the Goths and Vandals, or the Huns drunk with victories. They have bet the ranch, farm and home on defeating Obama. And if he wins, and if he appoints the majority of future judges to the federal bench and Supreme Court? What then? The GOP does not have tolerance or compromise in their vocabularies. Worse, to them, corporations are people and therefore have a moral conscience?

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

That's why Brownie doesn't want to propose any new laws on it. He can only run on being the anti abortion governor as long as there's some law left to pass. Plus the optics don't look as good as soon as the unintended consequences start rolling in - say the first woman that was having a miscarriage and dies after a doctor refuses to treat her.

Kirk Larson 6 years, 5 months ago

Republicans believe money is speech (as per Citizens United). Notice toward the end how they want to restrict speech if it benefits those who support Freedom of Choice. What hypocrites.

Ragingbear 6 years, 5 months ago

In other news, wire coat hangers sales are on the rise.

Brock Masters 6 years, 5 months ago

I read where Maryland is charging two abortion doctors with murder. This should stir things up.

mloburgio 6 years, 5 months ago

Abortion is a relevant medical procedure, just ask Rick Santorum OUR ABORTION WAS DIFFERENT: WHEN THE ANTI-CHOICE CHOOSE

“Abortion in any form is wrong,” said Santorum in 2000, three years after the tragedy. “Except for my wife. If your wife’s life was at stake and the only thing that could save her was an abortion, well, too bad. Your wife will have to die. It was different with my wife. You see, I love her. I don’t even know your wife’s name.”

Roe v. Wade was a bipartisan ruling made by a conservative leaning Supreme Court

jafs 6 years, 5 months ago

Is that a real quote?

If so, it's pretty horrifying.

verity 6 years, 5 months ago

As much as I detest Santorum, I doubt that he said that---and if you click on the link and look at the blurb about the author, you will see that he thinks he's being funny. How that is funny I don't know, and it seems libelous to me. This is how lies become "truth" and are passed along as fact. It is not helpful to the discussion and Santorum says enough ridiculous things without making anything up.

mloburgio 6 years, 5 months ago

. Republicans think rape isn’t a crime, but miscarriages are.

KayCee 6 years, 5 months ago

Where did you come up with that twisted idea, mlo?

kochmoney 6 years, 5 months ago

It's an overgeneralization. There are pro-choice Republicans, even though they're a dying breed, and there are still a few moderates left.

There was a law proposed in Georgia this year that essentially said that women who couldn't prove there was "no human involvement whatsoever" in their miscarriage would be guilty of murder. So if a woman smoked, drank coffee, maybe had a drink before she knew she was pregnant, took a hot shower, rode on a rollar coaster or did any of the bazillion things that maybe might cause a miscarriage, it's the death penalty for her.

Kate Rogge 6 years, 5 months ago

So you're pro-choice after all? Man, I had you all wrong...

Dan Eyler 6 years, 5 months ago

The abortionist in Maryland had a dead frozen 36 week fetus in his clinic freezer. I call that murder for doctor, staff and mother.

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