Abortion bill sent on via shortcut
Topeka ? Senators sent Gov. Kathleen Sebelius a bill Thursday night that supporters say will impose additional requirements on all abortions and tighter restrictions on late-term procedures.
Opponents complained about the shortcut approach taken to vote on the House-passed bill without sending it to a Senate committee for review. Others said it created additional barriers for women.
The 25-13 vote sent the bill the governor, who supports abortion rights, after 90 minutes of debate. Sebelius spokeswoman Nicole Corcoran said the governor will have to review the bill after she gets it.
Among other things, it requires women to receive more information about the fetus and the procedure before getting an abortion. It also addresses girls, who abortion opponents say often are coerced into terminating their pregnancies.
The way the bill was handled sparked fireworks.
“This isn’t deliberation. This is a distortion of the process,” said Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat. “It’s an outrage. You can’t describe it any other way.”
But Sen. Phil Journey, a Wichita Republican, replied, “It’s every legislator’s right to use the rules put in place to represent their district. That is not a negative thing.”
The bill doesn’t ban any legal procedure, including late-term abortions that involve a fetus determined to be 22 weeks or older.
“I hope the governor will sign the bill, but I believe based on her past positions on abortion, it’s probable she will veto it,” Journey said after the vote.
Sen. Tim Huelskamp, who led the push for passage, said, “If she wants a little national play and look like a moderate red-state Democratic governor, she’ll sign it.”
Under the bill, a woman could get a court order against a physician suspected of violating the late-term abortion law, as could a spouse, sibling, parent or grandparent, parents or guardians of a minor. So could a prosecutor.
“This bill places multiple barriers to a legal procedure. If we were talking about any other medical procedure, there would be 40 no votes,” Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat. “It seems we are suggesting the woman can’t fend for herself and make up her own mind.”
Huelskamp said there are cases of a girl or young woman being coerced into having an abortion, often by the father of the fetus.
“If the baby can be eliminated, there is less evidence of a crime,” the Fowler Republican said. “It’s just horrible that a 40-year-man who impregnated a 13-year-old girl accompanies her to the clinic.”
The bill requires a minor seeking any abortion to provide proof of identification and residence. Anyone accompanying her also must provide identification and sign a statement about the relationship with the patient and the identity of the father.
The measure says that at least 30 minutes before the procedure, the doctor would be required to meet privately with the woman and provide her with a written reason for the abortion. The doctor also would be required to allow her to view the ultrasound image of a fetus and the heartbeat sound if that type equipment is used.
It also requires doctors to inform women at least 24 hours in advance about free counseling and free hospice services for fetuses and terminally ill newborns.
The bill also requires the State Board of Healing Arts to revoke the license of any physician convicted of performing an illegal late-term abortion.
It also requires the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to compile more detailed information about the reasons doctors cite for performing such procedures. Abortion foes contend the agency isn’t compiling the information now required by law, which the agency disputes.
State social services would have to publish an annual report of child sexual abuse cases received from abortion providers, minus the names and other identifying information of the victims.