Bill Extending Conscience Protections on its way to Kansas Governor

By Dave Andrusko

Kansas State Senator Garrett Love

A bill is on its way to pro-Life Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback that gives increased legal protection to Kansas health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions. The Senate approved “The Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act” by a vote 23-16. The House had done likewise March 29 by an overwhelming 95-29 vote.

According to Kansans for Life, Sen. Garrett Love shepherded the bill in the Senate  and it was introduced in the House Judiciary committee by Chairman Rep. Lance Kinzer. The new law would take effect July 1.

“Abortion opponents argued that the legislation merely updates decades-old state laws preventing doctors and hospitals from being forced to participate in abortions or sterilizations,” the Associated Press’s John Hanna reported. “They said changes are needed because women seeking abortions can now use drugs to induce them, and health care professionals who oppose abortion shouldn’t face the threat of losing their jobs or being sued if they follow their consciences.” (The “drugs” are a reference to RU486 abortions.)

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook told her colleagues the law is “about respecting the rights to conscience and others’ beliefs,” adding, “Let’s protect people’s beliefs.”

The measure extends conscience protections beyond hospitals–to clinics, doctor’s offices,  and other facilities as well.  The AP reported, “People are protected not only from being forced to participate in abortions but from referring patients for abortion services or participating in the prescription or administration of any drug that terminates a pregnancy.”

“Love told his colleagues that the 95 votes the bill received in the House was, to his knowledge, a recent record for anti-abortion legislation and said the bill is necessary in part to address new ‘abortion-inducing’ drugs,” Hanna reported.

Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for Kansans for Life, told NRL News Today, “Medical professionals have the right to keep their first amendment freedom of religion, especially in a culture of death where med schools have largely abandoned the Hippocratic oath.”  The Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act “is an important step to prevent Kansas pro-life medical professionals from being run out of medicine.”

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