Opponents, supporters of abortion bill square off

? Opponents of a wide-ranging abortion bill Wednesday said the measure would threaten the health of Kansas women and could trigger a ban of all abortions.

But supporters of House Bill 2253 said it removes tax credits for anything abortion-related, protects health care providers who refuse involvement in abortions, and bolsters information provided women who are seeking an abortion.

Representing abortion advocates Trust Women, Lawrence attorney Bob Eye said the 70-page bill “effectively puts the Legislature in the examination room with the physician and the patient.

“The examination room is pretty crowded putting the Legislature in there and it doesn’t do anything to help that situation,” Eye said.

But Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said his bill is “advancing the goal of building a culture of life.”

The legislation says: “The life of each human being begins at fertilization,” and the unborn child has all the rights available to anyone else.

Michael Schuttloffel, executive director of the Kansas Catholic Conference, said the measure’s definition of life was “legally, scientifically and morally sound.”

But Elise Higgins, state co-coordinator of Kansas National Organization for Woman, said the bill’s definition of life could make all abortions in Kansas illegal, if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the legality of abortion should be decided by states.

Amanda Schulze, president of the Commission on the Status of Women at Kansas University, said such fetal personhood statement conflict with current law.

“To be able to define when life really begins is not a right afforded to the government of this nation. It is a deeply personal definition and should not be infringed upon by a secular government,” Schulze said.

Chantalle Hanschu, a Kansas State University student who works at a domestic violence and sexual assault crisis center, said she was concerned the bill would make abortions more difficult to get.

Hanschu said sometimes in abusive relationships, pregnancy may result from rape or because the abuser has sabotaged his partner’s birth control.

“It is important for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to have the final say in when or whether they have children,” she said.

Jeanne Gawdun, senior lobbyist for Kansans for Life, praised a portion of the bill that includes information about what Gawdun said was the “undeniable” link between abortion and breast cancer.

But Dr. Herbert Hodes, an obstetrican-gynecologist, said, “There is no abortion-breast cancer link, yet I am forced by this legislation to tell people this.” Chris Masoner, a lobbyist for the American Cancer Society, also said there is no link between abortion and breast cancer.

Many of the provisions of the bill were adopted by the House last year but died in the Senate over a fight over training doctors.

That bill would have prevented state employees, including doctors in training at the Kansas University Medical Center, from performing abortions on state property or state time. KU Medical Center officials voiced concerns that the accreditation of its obstetrics and gynecology program would be in danger under that provision.

In the new bill, Kinzer said KU will use private dollars to pay the residents, rather than public funds.

“There is no dispute between the language of this bill and the activities of the medical center,” Kinzer said. Officials from KU who attended the hearing nodded in agreement when he said that.