Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson Vetoes Pro-Life Bill to Stop Late-Term Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
April 15, 2010
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — Like his predecessor before him, Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson has vetoed a bill that would help the state of Kansas stop late-term abortions. The legislation holds late-term abortion practitioners accountable by making them report to the state health department a precise diagnosis used to justify late-term abortions.
Previously, late-term abortion practitioners like George Tiller have been able to merely cite the law when doing abortions on unborn children later in pregnancy rather than providing medical reasons that supposedly justify the abortion.
In a statement accompanying his veto, Parkinson, a Democrat, said the current law strikes a reasonable balance on a very difficult issue.
I support the current law and believe that an annual legislative battle over the issue is not in the publics best interest, he said.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman chastised Parkinson for his decision.
"This bill would have helped law enforcement agencies determine if late-term abortions done after viability are being done in compliance with the law. That sounds like a no-brainer, but in Kansas, governmental cover-up for abortion abuses is a way of life," he told LifeNews.com.
Kansas law currently bans post-viability abortions unless the continuation of the pregnancy would present a "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function" of the pregnant woman.
Since 2000, that law has been interpreted to include "mental health" as long as the mental health risk was "substantial and irreversible."
However, Newman complains that abortion practitioners "have only reported that post-viability abortions are done for nebulous "mental health" reasons. There has never been a recorded late-term abortion in Kansas history done to save the life or physical health of a mother."
A noted psychiatrist, Dr. Paul McHugh, who examined numerous late-term abortion files obtained during an investigation conducted by the Kansas Attorney General’s office, noted that not one of the files he examined met the legal requirement that mental health impairments be "substantial and irreversible."
McHugh determined that most late-term abortions were being done because women felt they could not attend a prom, concert or sporting event, or for other "trivial" social reasons, and not for any legitimate psychiatric diagnosis.
"The only motive possible for denying law enforcement access to the actual mental health diagnosis is to protect abortionists who are operating outside the law. Parkinson’s veto is virtually inviting illegal late-term abortions to continue in Kansas," Newman said. "With the new laws banning late-term abortions in Nebraska, and with LeRoy Carhart looking for a new location for his now illegal late-term abortion practice, this veto could cause Kansas to reassume the title as the Late-term Abortion Capital."
The bill, HB 2115, would also have allowed for families of women to sue abortion practitioners if they believed the abortion was done illegally.
It would have also codified the requirement that the second consenting physician needed for approval of late-term abortions be licensed in Kansas.
Kansans for Life was also urging Parkinson to sign HB 2115 or allow it to go into law without his signature.
"Our 1998 law was supposed to keep post-viable abortions banned (except for very dire circumstances) but it hasn’t been enforced," Kansans for Life said in an email to LifeNews.com before the veto. "Instead, according to official Kansas abortion stats, there have been 3,000 since then."
H.B. 2115 requires that state agencies honor the original legislative intent and mandate that abortionists give real, medical reasons for doing a post-viable abortion. It also gives women and their families standing to sue if they believe the woman received an illegal abortion.
KFL says getting the governor to sign the law is especially important as Nebraska-based abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart determines what to do with his late-term abortion business that is facing new limits from the Nebraska legislature.
"Carhart of Nebraska (who still retains a Kansas medical license) said recently that a new law passed in Nebraska may cause him to move his late-term abortion clinic to another state, and Kansas is one he is considering," KFL says. "He formerly worked for George Tiller and is responsible for many of those 3,000 post-viable abortions mentioned above."
"He enjoyed the fact that while Kansas required reasons be given for post-viable abortions, that Kansas didn’t enforce that requirement the way it was intended by the legislature," KFL adds. "H.B. 2115 does. It mandates a medical reason be listed for post-viable abortions on state abortion report forms. The fact that something that simple could keep Kansas off Carhart’s relocation list shows just how illegal most, if not all, of those 3,000 post-viable abortions likely were."
The House approved HB 2215 83-36, one vote shy of a veto proof majority and the Senate approved the measure hours before the House on a 24-15 margin.
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said her gorup would be working with legislators to attempt to override the veto.
This is the fifth year in a row the legislature has sent a similar bill to the governor’s desk attempting to stop late-term abortions and ensuring any done in the state follow current laws limiting them. Governor Kathleen Sebelius vetoed previous versions.
The current version of the bill also allows women to sue an abortion practitioner if they believe the late-term abortion was done for illegal reasons.
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