Kansas Governor Laura Kelly has vetoed a bill that would protect newborns who survive abortions from infanticide.
The Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (House Bill 2313) received massive support in the legislature and a veto override is likely. The governor is a pro-abortion Democrat, but the legislation has enough support to override her potential veto. The bill passed with bipartisan support in a 86-36 vote Tuesday in the state House and a 31-9 vote late last month in the state Senate.
The bill requires any healthcare worker present at the baby’s birth to provide the same degree of care to preserve the baby’s life that would be provided to any other baby born at the same gestational age. Additionally, it requires the abortion facility to transport the baby to the hospital. The bill also adds criminal penalties to existing laws that protect born-alive infants to ensure abortion workers are held accountable if a baby is abandoned to die.
The measure would have provided infant abortion survivors the same human rights and legal protections as other babies born at an early stage.
HB 2313 would have required reporting of abortion survivors, something Kansas as well as the vast majority of states do not currently report. Four of the states that track born-alive numbers account for 111 babies surviving failed abortion over the last five years. The Abortion Survivors Network estimates 1,734 babies live through abortions each year and a total of 85,817 have survived an abortion.
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But Kelly has no problem with abortions up to birth and letting babies die if they survive abortions.
Danielle Underwood, KFL Director of Communications, blasted the governor in an email to LifeNews.
“Legislators from both sides of the aisle stood together to state the simple fact that babies born alive after an attempted abortion should not be left to die on a cold, steel, table. These babies deserve protection and the same medical care as any other newborn of the same gestational age. This once again proves how out of touch Gov. Kelly is with the values of the people of Kansas. We now call on all Kansans to urge their legislators to do the right thing and override Gov. Kelly’s heartless veto,” she said.
Melissa Ohden, an abortion survivor and the Founder of the Abortion Survivors Network, commented on the veto: “Kansas deserves better than Gov. Kelly’s veto of this bill. We remain committed to serving survivors of abortion at any gestational age, along with their mothers, who deserve compassionate prenatal and postpartum care, a delivery plan and emotional support.”
According to a McLaughlin poll, 77% of voters support legislation to ensure that a baby who survives a failed abortion be given the same medical treatment as any other baby born prematurely at the same age.
On Tuesday, Kansans for Life celebrated the victory of the bill’s passage in a Twitter post, writing, “This bill would provide legal protections for infants born alive regardless of the intent of delivery.”
“A supermajority of Kansas legislators heard the testimonies of abortion attempt survivors and doctors and responded with compassion,” said Danielle Underwood, KFL Director of Communications. “The bill now heads to the governor’s desk where she can sign it into law, allow it to become law without her signature, or veto it. What will Gov. Laura Kelly do next?”
Underwood continued: “As Kansans, we must hold our elected leaders accountable to recognize these babies exist and deserve equal care. Kansans for Life calls on all who believe that no baby should be left to die alone on a cold, steel table to urge Gov. Laura Kelly to quickly sign the Kansas Born Alive Infants Protection Act into law.”
In one heartbreaking testimony, state Sen. Mark Steffen, R-Hutchinson, said he worked with a nurse who witnessed viable newborns being abandoned to die after they survived abortions, the Topeka Capital-Journal reports.
“You just see this older nurse’s face sink, her emotions sink, and the sadness set in as she told stories of when they’d do these elective abortions on these late second-term, early third-term pregnancies,” said Steffen, an anesthesiologist by trade. “The ice cold room, they’d pull this baby out and they slap it down on a stainless steel barren table. She’d watch that baby gasp for breath. It left a hole in her soul. It left in mine. No body, no human, no baby deserves to be treated like that.”
A few Democrat lawmakers objected to the legislation, arguing that requiring medical care for newborns would traumatize their parents.
“Regardless of the intent of the delivery, if the infant is born alive and only has minutes to live… the mother, the father, the family… have the right to ask for palliative care and embrace the infant until it is no longer breathing,” said state Rep. Susan Ruiz, D-Shawnee, according to KSNT. “Instead, the bill continues to require that the health providers secure transportation and immediately transport to a hospital.”
State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, R-Wichita, responded that parents would have time to hold their baby while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.
During an earlier House debate in March, other Democrats claimed the protections would interfere with doctors’ and patients’ “healthcare decisions,” including state Rep. Christina Haswood, D-Lawrence. But Republican lawmakers said saving newborns’ lives is healthcare.
“How can we kill or watch a baby die? How can we justify doing that?” state Rep. Mike Thompson, R-Bonnor Springs, asked.
Babies survive abortions every year in the United States, but no one knows exactly how many. Kansas and most other states do not track data on babies who survive abortions.
LifeNews recently examined abortion data from seven states that do keep track, and, between 2020 and 2022, 34 babies were reported born alive in botched abortions.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as the personal testimonies of nurses and abortion survivors themselves, also provide evidence that babies survive abortions. According to the CDC, at least 143 babies were born alive after botched abortions between 2003 and 2014 in the U.S., though there likely are many more.
Aborting unborn babies is still legal in Kansas due, in part, to a 2019 state Supreme Court ruling, which found a “fundamental right” to abortion in the Kansas Constitution. Additionally, a few weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs v. Jackson decision in June, Kansas voters rejected a state constitutional amendment that would have overturned the ruling and allowed lawmakers to pass legal protections for babies before birth.
The future for unborn babies remains uncertain in Kansas. Although voters rejected the pro-life amendment last year, they also voted to elect a state attorney general and Republican super-majorities to the state House and Senate.
In January, newly-elected state Attorney General Kris Kobach made protecting unborn babies from abortion a priority when he asked the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn its 2019 ruling in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.