Kansas House Fails to Override Parkinson Veto of Bill to Stop Late-Term Abortions
by Steven Ertelt
April 30, 2010
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — The Kansas state House failed today in its attempt to override the veto of Governor Mark Parkinson of a bill that would help the state stop late-term abortions. The vote of 82-40 fell just two votes shy of the 84 votes needed to override and provide new reporting standards that could stop more 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.
Kansans for Life informed LifeNews.com after the vote that the "chess game" over the bill will continue and that another vote may take place on Monday.
Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican who is a pro-life leader, changed his vote to no at the last minute so he could potentially bring up the override again for a vote. otherwise, he would not be able to call the House to vote a second time.
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman told LifeNews.com he is disappointed by the results.
"This bill was falsely portrayed as a law that would interfere with a woman’s abortion decision. In truth, this law had nothing to do with women and everything to do with insuring that abortionists are complying with already established law," he said.
Newman put the blame squarely on Parkinson and said he is at fault for vetoing the common-sense pro-life bill.
"Parkinson’s veto was a vote for illegal late-term abortions," he said.
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.
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 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.
"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 the bill is especially important because 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.
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