by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
March 23, 2005
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — The Kansas House has passed a bill strengthening regulation of abortion facilities. However, Governor Kathleen Sebelius is lobbying lawmakers to rewrite the legislation so that it also applies to other health care providers.
The measure passed handily by a vote of 87-36. It now goes on to the Senate, where similar legislation died last year. The Governor, who supports legal abortion, vetoed a similar bill in 2003.
“I think having a set of standards that is put together by doctors and applies across the board makes very good sense, and I would love that to reach my desk,” Sebelius told the press.
The margin of victory was three votes more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a governor’s veto.
The chairman of the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee, Sen. Jim Barnett (R-Emporia), says the legislation could have momentum because of recent events. In January, a Texas woman died after going to a Wichita abortion facility. The state also recently levied a $1,000 fine against a doctor because of poor conditions at a Kansas City, Kansas abortion facility. Pro-life activists saw the sanction as too mild.
“I think the issue is more elevated now,” Barnett told the Associated Press. “I believe there is a much higher level of concern.”
At the time of the bill’s introduction, Rep. Peggy Long-Mast, a Republican and the bill’s chief sponsor, told the Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper, “We didn’t want to waste effort and time and perhaps desensitize people to this issue."
The House bill would require licensing of abortion facilities by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. It would also establish minimum health and safety standards. The department currently regulates hospitals and outpatient surgery centers, but not abortion facilities. Abortionists themselves are currently regulated by the state Board of Healing Arts.
The Governor said she would support a bill which would have the health department regulate all clinics and offices performing minor surgeries.
The bill’s backers say regulation of abortion facilities is too weak, causing women to be in danger.
Meanwhile, supporters of legal abortion say additional regulation could force abortion facilities out of business.
Julie Burkhart, a spokeswoman for the late-term abortion facility run by abortionist George Tiller, called the bill “prejudicial” because it only regulates abortion centers. After the death of a woman at the facility in January, Sebelius ordered the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to investigate. She also asked the board’s “determination of whether (a previous abortion regulations bill), passed by the 2003 legislature would have in any way mitigated or prevented the patient’s death."
Earlier this month, Mary Kay Culp of Kansans for Life said Sebelius’ concern about women’s safety at abortion centers was overdue.
“Governor Sebelius’ veto ignored the legislature’s informed recognition of the desperate need for effective regulation of Kansas abortion clinics, and for that she should be held accountable," Culp said.
Tiller’s political action committee and abortion business donated more than $20,000 to Sebelius’ campaigns between 1994 and 2002.
“Kathleen Sebelius is protecting the abortion industry and her donors, not women,” Culp said.
Kansans for Life – https://www.kfl.org