The Senate passed both bills provisionally Monday with a final vote tally for both scheduled for Tuesday.UPDATE, Tues. 11 am: Final tally: SB 437,Simon’ s Law, passed 36-4 and SB 436 passed 31-9.
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. See personal testimonies and blog posts, here and here.
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 –thus prohibiting all stakeholders from testifying. That was both absurd and provably false!
- There’s a myriad of medical interest lobbyists at the Capitol who learned on Feb 10 that Simon’s Law was in process and had plenty of time to prepare testimony.
- 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, MO and St. Louis. MO, 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 not in the original Missouri version.
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On the Senate floor, Health & Public Welfare chairman, Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R-Wichita), rebutted Sen. Kelly’s claims of “committee process abuse”and 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 tomorrow’s final vote.
The unique situation in which a Kansas pro-life bill has gone unchallenged in committee may actually reflect reluctance by physicians and hospitals to state openly:
- their unwillingness to relinquish sole control over DNRs, as well as
- prove that a pernicious medical elitism and bias exists toward patients they believe are not “worthy” of living.
Pro-life Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer (R-Grinnell) alluded to physicians who issue DNRs in order to “put parents (not the child) out of their misery.” Sen. Ostmeyer insisted parents deserve to make the final call, adding,”Don’t let the doctor play God.”
LifeNews.com Note: Kathy Ostrowski is the legislative director for Kansans for Life, the state affiliate to the National Right to Life Committee.