Kansas passes bill to defund abortion and support Down Syndrome

By Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director
Kansans for Life

Kansas State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook

Kansas State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook

The Kansas “Pro-Life Protections Act” (HB 2253) passed the Senate by a vote of 29-11, after a nearly three-hour debate Monday that focused on extraneous amendments offered by pro-abortion Democrat senators.

Only one amendment (tweaking the tax code) was adopted. Because of that, HB 2253 is procedurally forced to get “re-passed” in the House before heading to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk.

The Pro-Life Protections Act actually enacts no new limitations on abortion, rather it:

* recognizes that life begins at fertilization for purposes of public policy decisions;

* prevents state discrimination against pro-life entities;

* restricts tax-payer funding for abortion;

* defunds abortion training at the state university medical school;

* keeps abortion businesses out of public school sex-education courses;

* codifies informed consent topics already used by the state health department;

* strengthens medical and community support for Down syndrome & other conditions.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, Chair of the Health committee, introduced and defended HB 2253 as positive and protective legislation. She had her hands full explaining what the bill didn’t contain against the spin of liberal pro-abortion forums such as the Huffington Post.

Sen. David Haley ordinarily causes pro-lifers to groan just because of the length of his pro-abortion harangues.  However Haley really startled observers Monday by complaining that abortion opponents “impose narrow Taliban-like philosophies.”

Be it noted that Haley twice admitted in debate that he “didn’t know what was in the bill,” even though he was in the committee that took testimony and ‘worked’ the bill!

Haley offered three hostile amendments that failed; the first one would have undone all Kansas abortion statutes, including—just to name a few– informed consent, parental involvement, physician penalties, and protection of unborn children who feel pain. His second amendment suggestion was already in Kansas law, and the third was to table the bill.

Sen. Marci Francisco introduced four hostile amendments of her own, one of which would overturn our 2011 law that excludes elective abortion coverage in private health plans. The ACLU took the law to court (a law which other states have had on the books for decades), forcing Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to defend the law. However, as the trial neared, the ACLU dropped the suit.

Senate Minority leader Anthony Hensley heartily endorsed every defeated motion. Sen. Francisco also offered a tax tweak amendment that succeeded.

The third abortion supporter to offer an amendment was freshman Sen. Pat Pettey. She wanted breast cancer and pre-term birth topics removed from the bill’s informed consent provisions.

For 15 years the Kansas Department of Health & Environment (KDHE) has determined that these topics are relevant to provide legally acceptable informed consent. KDHE cites the Institute of Medicine and a 2009 international meta-analysis in their exposition of possible future pre-term birth risk from an induced abortion.

While citing studies that conclude having an induced abortion raises a woman’s risk of having breast cancer (the “independent risk” factor), the KDHE materials focus on the incontrovertible biological evidence that the risk of breast cancer is reduced when a woman completes a full-term pregnancy. An already-pregnant woman deserves that information.

In fact, a national Planned Parenthood factsheet (submitted by its Kansas City affiliate in opposition to HB 2253) actually reinforces this fact in their breast cancer section:

“reproductive factors have been associated with risk for the disease since the seventeenth century…it is known that having a full-term pregnancy early in a woman’s childbearing years is protective against breast cancer.”

Now compare Planned Parenthood’s statement above with the first 3 sentences in the KDHE abortion informed consent booklet, under breast cancer risk:

Your chances of getting breast cancer are affected by your pregnancy history. If you have carried a pregnancy to term as a young woman, you may be less likely to get breast cancer in the future. However, your risk is not reduced if your pregnancy is ended by an abortion.

The language is nearly identical! Sen. Pettey’s amendment failed. The challengers sought headlines, not improvements for the bill. Kansans can be proud of this legislation.