Topeka Kansas University Medical Center on Thursday dodged a possible accreditation fight over abortion, but a bill approved by a House committee would require physicians inform women seeking an abortion of an unproven assertion — that there is a risk of breast cancer from the procedure.
“To require physicians to give out information that is not based on medical science is wrong,” said state Rep. Kathy Wolfe Moore, D-Kansas City, Kan., who opposed the bill.
Moore said she understood some scientists have said there is a link between the increased risk of breast cancer and abortion, but that the overwhelming amount of research by the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society and other major health organizations say that isn’t so.
She made a motion to remove the cancer provision, but that failed on a 6-13 vote.
State Rep. Joe Patton, R-Topeka, said the provision simply gave women information. “We want women to be fully informed,” Patton said. But Rep. Judith Loganbill, D-Wichita, said it was a “scare tactic.”
Training at KU Med
The 68-page bill was then pushed out of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee after a major dustup with the Kansas University Medical Center was settled.
As originally proposed, House Bill 2598 would have prevented medical residents who are being trained as obstetrics-gynecologists from training for abortion-related procedures. That would have jeopardized accreditation of the OB-GYN program, which will be reviewed this fall, KU said. Kansans for Life, however, said that KU was wrong.
After days of negotiations, which included attorneys from the KU Medical Center, state Rep. John Rubin, R-Shawnee, amended the bill to bypass the dispute by designating the OB-GYN medical residents as nonstate employees. The amendment would expire in June 2013.
Rubin and other anti-abortion legislators said this would ensure state funds aren’t used for abortion training, resolve KU’s accreditation question, and give legislators time to re-visit the issue next year. Committees are facing a Friday deadline to move bills for possible enactment later in the session.
Some abortion rights supporters opposed giving the amendment an expiration date, and predicted another round of political fighting. “This gives the women of Kansas a year to flee the state,” said Rep. Sean Gatewood, D-Topeka.
Loganbill, who supports abortion rights, said the Legislature shouldn’t interfere with training at KU.
“I think it would be a travesty for us to have rural doctors in rural Kansas without proper OB-GYN training,” Loganbill said. “It’s in the best interest to make sure we have doctors who are fully, fully trained in OB-GYN practices,” she said.
But Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said, “The evidence shows that abortion training is not ‘best practices’ — but was mainstreamed into OB-GYN physician resident programs to recruit abortionists and normalize abortion as healthcare.”
In a statement, KU Medical Center said, “The KU Medical Center will continue to work constructively with all policymakers and others who govern our medical education and training to ensure that our state’s medical center and its OB-GYN program continues to be fully accredited and provides outstanding physicians for our state.”
Fetal heartbeat provision
The committee also removed a provision of the bill that says for pregnancies at least 10 weeks from the last menstrual period, the abortion provider must use a hand-held Doppler fetal monitor and “make the embryonic or fetal heartbeat of the unborn child audible for the pregnant woman to hear.” Committee Chairman Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, said there had been too much confusion on that issue.
But the bill, called the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, made numerous other changes in state abortion law.
“This committee is practicing medicine without a license,” said Kari Ann Rinker, state coordinator for the National Organization for Women.
One part of the bill would eliminate a civil cause of action for wrongful life or wrongful death, according to a state bill summary. Rinker said this could allow physicians to conceal from the pregnant woman information about abnormalities in the fetus.
The measure also would have the effect of creating new taxes on expenses related to abortion services or insurance coverage for abortion, and imposes state sales taxes on drugs and medications used in an abortion.
The bill also excludes the threat of suicide or self-harm from the definition of substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function for the purposes of seeking a post-viability abortion.
And it would prevent any group providing abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood, from offering materials for human sexuality classes in school districts.