Sebelius vetoes abortion report measure

? Saying it would open private medical records to public viewing, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday vetoed a proposal to require doctors to tell the state exactly why they aborted fetuses able to survive outside the womb.

The measure also directed the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to summarize the information it received from doctors about why they performed the procedure and include it in annual reports the agency already publishes.

Some abortion opponents had hoped the increased reporting would give legislators data they could use to set policy – and influence public opinion. Lawmakers included the new requirements in the year’s final spending bill.

While Sebelius signed the bill, she used her power to veto individual items in spending measures to block the tougher reporting requirements. Sebelius said doctors would face “open-ended” questions and be required to divulge details about patients’ medical condition.

“Rather than collecting sound data that is able to be properly analyzed and protected, this proviso is likely to have little substantive effect, yet opens up patients’ private medical information to public viewing,” Sebelius wrote in her veto message. “This measure runs counter to Kansans’ strong belief in the importance of medical privacy.”

Backers of the proposal said patients’ privacy already is protected because doctors assign patients numbers and don’t submit their names to the state. Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, called the governor’s statement about privacy “a blatant, outright lie.”

“This was the very, very, very, very least she could have done to protect unborn children and their mothers, and once again she couldn’t do it,” Culp said.

Sebelius, a strong abortion rights supporter, also vetoed an abortion reporting bill last year.

Julie Burkhart, a lobbyist for the abortion rights group ProKanDo, said anti-abortion groups sought the increased reporting so they would have information to guide them when they sought to ban certain abortions.