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.


Dan Eyler 2 years, 3 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.


FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 3 months ago

These anti- abortion people are making a mistake . Liberal women that do not want to pay for their baby'a growing up should not mean that society has to pay for it. Liberal men have it right. If they don't want their women to have babies, then everything possible should be done to make it so.

It is a terribly/horrifying event to have to pay for raising Liberal's babies. They don't want them. Why should anyone else?


mloburgio 2 years, 3 months ago

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


mloburgio 2 years, 3 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


Brock Masters 2 years, 3 months ago

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


Ragingbear 2 years, 3 months ago

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


Kirk Larson 2 years, 3 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.


tange 2 years, 3 months ago

The solution to abortion is not legal. Nor is it forthcoming. There are too many shiny and pretty things to be had, in its wake.


oletimer 2 years, 3 months ago

The minority wanting zero abortions need to get their agenda shoved down our throats before we get rid of brownback. This is the only reason the jerk was elected. They are making the most of it. They better enjoy it while they can.


William Weissbeck 2 years, 3 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?


jafs 2 years, 3 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?


somebodynew 2 years, 3 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.


Phoenixman 2 years, 3 months ago

Why label them anti-abortion? The other side is Pro-baby murder? What does the group in question identify itself with? Pro life I believe is the correct title. Kansans For Life is the leading group behind the changes, they are not known as Kansans for Anti Abortion. Another example of poor journalism.


onceinawhile 2 years, 3 months ago

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


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