State abortion rate decreases

10,836 procedures reported, about half on nonresidents

The number of abortions in Kansas decreased slightly for 2007 after the state saw an uptick the previous year.

A total of 10,836 abortions were reported. The majority of women who received the surgery were white, single and between the ages of 20 and 29. Close to half of the abortions were performed on women who were from outside of Kansas.

Late Friday afternoon, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment released the preliminary report to legislators and posted it on the department’s Web site.

The report includes all in-state abortions; however, the report does not include all of the data on Kansans who have had the procedure out-of-state. Once other states report their data, the numbers may increase.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director for Kansans for Life, said the decline in abortions can be partly attributed to the recent investigation of Dr. George Tiller’s Wichita abortion clinic.

In 2007, late-term abortions dropped by 23 percent. There was a 28 percent decrease in the number of abortions performed on late-term viable fetuses.

Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services is among the few clinics in the United States that perform abortions in the late second and third trimesters. It draws women from across the country.

Abortion opponents – including Kansans for Life – believe Tiller is violating a 1998 law that makes it illegal to perform abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy if the fetus could live outside the womb. The fetus only can be aborted in life-threatening cases or if “substantial and irreversible impairment” would occur.

A Sedgwick County grand jury subpoenaed the medical files for 2,000 of Tiller’s patients. On April 8, the Kansas Supreme Court will hear three cases challenging those subpoenas.

Dr. Tiller’s office could not be reached for comment Friday evening. Planned Parenthood also could not be reached for comment.