Topeka — An ultrasound will be performed on a pregnant woman before a Senate committee today, the chairwoman of the committee said.
The procedure will be performed in the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee as hundreds of anti-abortion advocates gather at the Statehouse to coincide with the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
Public Health and Welfare Chairwoman State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, is an ardent opponent of abortion.
She said the ultrasound needed to be done for the committee for education purposes. "Because we often consider the life and health of the unborn child in the Senate health committee, it is important that committee members are educated as to the science of the life within the womb," Pilcher-Cook said.
Those opposed to abortion often push for laws that require women who want an abortion to have an ultrasound and have abortion providers place the ultrasound image next to a pregnant woman so she can view it and listen to the heartbeat.
Visiting Arkansas today, Gov. Sam Brownback said that unsuccessful Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney focused too narrowly on the economy and that the GOP must stick to its opposition to gay marriage and abortion.
His comments were made in Little Rock, Ark., to a reporter for The Associated Press before Brownback spoke to about 500 people gathered for a fundraiser for the Arkansas Republican Party.
"You can't just talk all about economic terms," Brownback said. "You've got to talk about terms to the heart." He said of Romney: "I think he would have been better off talking about the social issues more. (President Barack) Obama talked a lot about social issues. If people don't hear you talking about them, they don't think they're necessarily that important to you."
On abortion, Brownback said: "If you believe this is a life, how do you not fight for a life? If you make that determination that this is a life, this is a sacred life, you have to fight for it or what does that say about what you're willing to allow? Much of it transcends politics."
Two years ago, Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law a bill that prohibits private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortions in their general plans except when a woman's life is in danger.
Under the law, Kansas residents or employers who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders.
But Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, said she tried to purchase such an optional rider under the state health insurance plan, but it was not available.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment confirmed that the state health insurance plan does not offer that coverage as an optional rider.
Francisco, a supporter of abortion rights, said, "I was going to encourage women to do it because the more women of my age who sign up, the cheaper it is going to be for everybody, so then you just make it something that people can afford." Francisco is 62.
The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged that law, saying that women's medical needs should be covered in their insurance policies. Supporters of the law said people who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to pay for such coverage in general health plan.
The ACLU dropped its lawsuit earlier this year after a federal judge had ruled that the group had failed to prove that the Legislature's motivation in passing the law was to make it more difficult to get abortions.
Topeka — The Kansas Senate on Thursday approved legislation that critics said would allow doctors to withhold information about prenatal problems from pregnant women if they believe it would lead the mother to get an abortion.
Senate Bill 142 bans civil actions for a claim of so-called "wrongful life" or "wrongful birth," in which a doctor withholds information about medical problems with the fetus from the pregnant woman and the baby is born with problems the mother was not warned about.
Abortion rights supporters say the measure will encourage doctors to lie to pregnant women.
State Sen. Pat Pettey, D-Kansas City, said the measure "invites doctors to break the oath of their profession." She added, "This legislation is disrespectful to woman and families."
But supporters of the bill said a doctor who lies to a patient would still be liable for medical malpractice and possible violations of standards set by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, R-Shawnee, said the legislation, supported by Kansans for Life, would prohibit parents from filing lawsuits where they want to be compensated for not aborting their child.
The measure was approved by the Senate, 34-5, and now goes to the House for consideration.