By Kathy Ostrowski, Legislative Director, Kansans for Life
Editor’s note. This is excerpted from a post that appeared the morning of March 22 on the blog of Kansans for Life, NRLC’s state affiliate. Later in the day SB 437, Simon’ s Law, passed 37-3 and SB 436 passed 32-8.
The Kansas Senate has approved two pro-life bills: SB 437, Simon’s Law, and SB 436, prioritizing public clinics for Title X money that Planned Parenthood had claimed in 2011 was “theirs.”
The Senate passed both bills provisionally Monday with a final vote tally for both scheduled for Tuesday.
Sen. Jacob LaTurner (R-Pittsburg) was bill carrier for Simon’s Law, adopted from a measure originally filed in Missouri. Simon’s Law would:
· prevent children from being denied life-sustaining care through DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders issued without parental knowledge or permission; and
· require hospitals and medical facilities with policies about withholding life-sustaining treatment to disclose such policies upon request.
“I think this is a very good piece of legislation, very necessary to make sure that this doesn’t happen to any children in the future in the state of Kansas,” LaTurner said, after detailing the in-hospital death of baby Simon Crosier, using the words of his mother, Sheryl Crosier.
Kansans for Life had presented a collection of tragic accounts of how medically-fragile children were harmed –or had died!– due to “secret” DNRs.
Simon’s Law does not criminalize any actions of doctors or hospitals; it merely sets in law the same process already in state statute for guardians when life-sustaining care is threatened to be denied to their wards.
During Monday’s floor debate, consternation about the bill came only from pro-abortion regulars, Sen. Vicki Schmidt (R-Topeka) and Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) who are each married to Kansas physicians. (No current Kansas senators are physicians or nurses by profession.)
Sen. Schmidt opened her comments on the floor by asking if, under Simon’s Law, a child in an emergency room must be kept alive if he/she had arrived without a parent. The answer was, certainly, yes! And isn’t that what every parent should be able to assume will happen? Yet Sen. Schmidt found it troubling!
Schmidt also tried to raise fears that foster parents or the state family agency would be unworkable as petitioners. However, the protocol to petition the court on behalf of a child in need of treatment, applies smoothly for those “acting in the place of” parents. Thus was the sum of her objection to Simon’s Law
To explain why no entity opposed Simon’s Law, Sen. Kelly made a false claim that “the process for it was too rushed,” with only one day’s notice given for the March 3rd hearing –thus prohibiting all stakeholders from testifying. That was both absurd and provably false!
1. There’s a myriad of medical interest lobbyists at the Capitol who learned on February 10 that Simon’s Law was in process and had plenty of time to prepare testimony.
2. Moreover, KFL records show the Senate Health committee secretary specifically notified all committee members (including Kelly) and 50 other interested parties on Feb 23–not March 2 as Kelly claimed–about the Simon’s Law hearing.
Sen. Kelly said that Children’s Mercy Hospitals in Kansas City, Missouri and St. Louis, Missouri, as well as the SMS Missouri health network, had opposed the Missouri version of Simon’s Law, and had discussed their concerns with her.
However, the superficial medical opposition to the Missouri version has seemed to evaporate toward the Kansas version, perhaps due to clarifying definitions and conflict protocols from KFL.
On the Senate floor, Health & Public Welfare chairman, Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R-Wichita), rebutted Sen. Kelly’s claims of “committee process abuse.” He said none of her named entities–or any other party– has ever yet to contact him with concerns. Most observers realized Kelly’s claim of abuse of process was a weak attempt to excuse why she will be passing on the final vote.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FUNDING ATTEMPT
The second bill passed is SB 436, which targets Title X contracts to provide comprehensive care to the indigent.
Kansas’s right to prioritize full-service providers was upheld in 2014 by federal appellate court after Planned Parenthood sued the budget allotment —and lost.
In Kansas, federal Title X reproductive health funds go first to full-service facilities, mainly public health clinics, and then public hospitals. The Kansas legislature has annually budgeted for this since 2011 (after 4 years of pro-abortion governor vetoes).
The point of SB 436 is to make permanent in statute what has been an annual budget item.
On behalf of her 26 Senate co-sponsors, Sen. Caryn Tyson (R-Parker) carried the bill.
As she had attempted in committee, abortion supporter, Sen. Marci Francisco (D-Lawrence) once again tried to amend SB 436 to create a new revenue stream for Planned Parenthood. The amendment failed.