Archive for Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Statehouse Live: Legislator files bill aimed at stopping mental health exception for late-term abortions

State Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, on Tuesday explains his House Bill 2007 which would prohibit late-term abortions for mental health reasons.

January 11, 2011, 12:13 p.m. Updated January 11, 2011, 12:23 p.m.


— A Kansas legislator has filed a bill that would prohibit late-term abortions that are currently allowed for mental health reasons.

Under Kansas law, late-term abortions can be performed on fetuses after the 21st week of pregnancy only if a woman or a girl faces death or harm to a major bodily function, which includes mental health.

House Bill 2007, by Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, states, “Bodily function means physical function. The term ‘bodily function’ does not include mental or emotional functions.”

Huebert said Tuesday, “I do believe it (the mental health exception) has been used to circumvent laws that regulate late-term abortions.”

Huebert said he expects laws passed by Kansas and other states that further restrict abortion will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. He also said his proposal may become part of a broader bill in the current legislative session that could contain other restrictions.

Some Kansas legislators have said they want to consider a law similar to one approved in Nebraska that outlaws abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the claim that fetuses can feel pain at that point.

There has also been talk of again approving measures that were vetoed by former governors Kathleen Sebelius and Mark Parkinson, both of whom supported a woman’s right to an abortion.

Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican who took office on Monday, opposes abortion rights and has said he will sign legislation to further restrict abortions.

In 2009, there were 9,474 abortions performed in Kansas, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Of that number, 121 were late-term abortions.

Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the organization would fight legislation to restrict abortions.

“Our position is that complex physical and mental health issues are up to doctors and patients to decide, and not the Legislature,” Brownlie said. He said if legislators want to reduce the number of abortions they should ensure access to low-cost birth control and support sex education in schools.

Concerning Huebert’s bill, Brownlie said, “There is a whole string of case law at the federal level indicating that the mental health of a woman has to be considered in these complex and difficult situations.”

He said it was likely Brownback would sign an anti-abortion bill into law, and then abortion rights supporters would probably challenge it in court.

Brownlie also said the number of late-term abortions done in Kansas, which Huebert’s bill deals with, will be lower when 2010 figures are released because of the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Tiller’s clinic was one of the few in the nation performing late-term abortions. Tiller was shot and killed May 31, 2009, while serving as an usher at his church. Anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder is serving a life sentence in prison for murdering Tiller.


Kontum1972 7 years, 4 months ago

Wow..with all the crap happening with the state....he will sign legislation to further restrict abortions.

good grief....

slowplay 7 years, 4 months ago

This is an interesting scenario. Although I approve of pro-choice, I believe late term abortions should only be made when the health of the mother is at risk. I would hope that considerations are made BEFORE the 21st week on the mental capabilities of the mother. That said, this bill must also address the responsibilities of the state to take care of this child who will be born to a mother mentally incapable of providing for it's well being.

madameX 7 years, 4 months ago

Part of the reasoning for including damage to mental or emotional functions in the circumstances under which an abortion after 21 weeks is allowed is that sometimes it's not until farther into the pregnancy that major birth defects become apparent. I know it doesn't happen with great frequency, but a woman can get pregnant, want to keep the baby but then learn that its brain is growing outside its skull or, something equally horrific, and there's a good chance it won't survive birth. If this law passes, that woman would not have the option of aborting, she would have no choice but to carry the pregnancy to term and give birth, only to have her baby die. For many, having the abortion would be less traumatic.

So it's not just about the mental capacity of the mother at the time of conception, and it's not just so that women who will be sad if they have to have a baby the don't want but didn't bother getting an abortion before 21 weeks can still get one, it's about avoiding unneccessary trauma for women (and men) who are already in a heartbreaking situation.

Cait McKnelly 7 years, 4 months ago

They don't care. Dont you get it MissX? They honestly don't care. As far as they are concerned if it has a beating heart it's "life" even though their own state doesn't define it that way. They will force women (and their men) to carry a fetus until it aborts itself even though they know they will never have a baby to hold and love. They will put women through months of agony just to have control. Because you see that's what this is about; control. You really think they give a rat's rear end for the baby? Not by a long shot!

madameX 7 years, 4 months ago

I'm aware that the legislators don't care, I was just explaining to the first poster, who didn't seem to be aware that that's the reasoning for those of us who oppose removing these provisions.

deec 7 years, 4 months ago

Actually it doesn't need a heart. Just be a fertilized egg.

olddognewtrix 7 years, 4 months ago

The Wing nuts of Kansas are guaranteing that Kansas will be constanly sued in federal court for the whole 1st term of Governor Brownshirt

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