UNITED STATES NEWS

Kansas abortion providers face new rule after veto overriden

Apr 26, 2023, 5:10 PM | Updated: 9:20 pm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas health care providers could face criminal charges over accusations about their care of newborns delivered during certain abortion procedures after the Republican-controlled Legislature on Wednesday overrode Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto of their legislation.

The new law takes effect July 1 and will require that heath care providers “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence” to preserve the health of newborns delivered during an abortion procedure that a “reasonably diligent and conscientious” provider would with other live births. The newborns will have to be transported to a hospital, and violating the law will be a felony, punishable up to a year’s probation for a first-time offender.

GOP lawmakers and anti-abortion groups pushed for decisive statewide vote in August 2022 affirmed abortion rights. Abortion opponents argued that voters still left room for “reasonable” restrictions, while abortion rights lawmakers said the bills broke faith with voters.

The new measure may be largely symbolic: Providers say the cases covered by the new law rarely, if ever, occur in Kansas because of how the state already regulates abortion. But abortion rights advocates also see the law as designed to sow confusion and fear so that doctors don’t want to provide abortion care and women are afraid to seek it.

“The words in these laws do not have any kind of real meaning,” said Elisabeth Smith, state policy and advocacy director for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which defends access to abortion. “Doctors and hospitals and clinics that are trying to interpret them don’t know what they mean and they don’t know how a prosecutor or a district attorney will be reading those laws.”

The Kansas law is similar to laws in at least 18 other states requiring that such newborns go to a hospital while also imposing criminal penalties for doctors who don’t provide the same care other providers would other live births. In Montana, voters rejected a proposed “born alive” law in November 2022.

Abortion opponents argued that the new law is a commonsense measure that protects newborns.

“We do have a culture of death,” said Republican state Rep. Ron Bryce, a southeastern Kansas physician. “The value of life is of the utmost importance.”

The votes on overriding Kelly’s veto were 87-37 in the House and 31-9 in the Senate, with two-thirds majorities needed.

Jeanne Gawdun, who lobbies for Kansans for Life, the state’s most influential anti-abortion group, said lawmakers “stood together for compassion and basic human decency.”

Kelly also scotched centers run by abortion opponents that provide free services to encourage people to carry pregnacies to term.

The House voted 84-40 and 86-38 to overturn those vetoes, and the Senate is expected to vote on overriding them Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that under the state constitution, access to abortion is a matter of bodily autonomy and a “fundamental” right. The statewide vote last year — the first state referendum after the U.S. Supreme Court decision — rejected stripping out protection for abortion access out of the Kansas Contitution.

But abortion opponents and Republican lawmakers have argued that Kelly’s stance on abortion is too far to the left, even after last year’s vote. House Speaker Dan Hawkins, a Wichita Republican, said Wednesday’s rebuke was for “the most radical in the pro-abortion movement.”

As Rep. Clark Sanders, a Republican from central Kansas, called the veto an “egregious wrong,” Rep. Stephanie Clayton, a Kansas City-area Democrat, took a bathroom break.

She muttered outside the chamber, “I’m not going to listen to some old guy telling me how my body works.”

The new law includes a requirement for providers to file annual reports with the state health department on infants “born alive” during abortion procedures. Like most states, Kansas doesn’t collect such statistics.

Abortion opponents argue that there are likely hundreds of newborns delivered during abortion procedures each year in the U.S. Anti-abortion groups extrapolate from data from the handful of states requiring reports of such live births and data from most Canadian provinces.

“It is proper to offer medical care to a living, breathing, heart-beating, muscle-moving human being,” Sanders told his colleagues.

But abortion rights supporters are skeptical because Kansas bans most abortions at the 22nd week. None past that point have been reported in the state since 2016.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says almost no infants survive if they are born before 23 weeks. Providers sometimes induce labor to deliver a fetus early if it has a severe medical problem, expecting death to follow within minutes or even seconds.

Abortion opponents argue that the new law only applies when abortion procedures are involved, but abortion rights advocates argue that doctors may worry it can be applied more broadly and then order futile medical care for a full-term but dying newborn.

“Symbolic in the abortion context,” Smith of the Center for Reproductive Rights said, describing the law. “Potentially very harmful in a limited number of cases where people, last moment with a dying infant, could be affected.”

___

Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

United States News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaking during the Republican Nati...

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at claims made at the Republican National Convention as Trump accepts nomination

As former President Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday he laid out his vision for running the country. He painted a dire picture of the state of the U.S. and outlined a range of actions he planned to take. But his comments were marked with a myriad of false and misleading information […]

2 hours ago

Dr. Max Rogers, the obstetrician-gynecologist at Grove Hill Memorial Hospital, poses for a photo Mo...

Associated Press

Alabama birthing units are closing to save money and get funding. Some say babies are at risk

GROVE HILL, Ala. (AP) — One of the last remaining birthing units in southern Alabama will close next month to qualify for federal funding that will save the hospital’s emergency services, but doctors warn the move may cost newborns and pregnant women essential access to obstetric care. Nestled in rural Clarke County, the small, nonprofit […]

3 hours ago

Jim, left, and Tamara Hamilton watch former President Donald Trump speak on television on Thursday,...

Associated Press

Some GOP voters welcome Trump’s somewhat softened tone at Republican National Convention

For those conservative voters long turned off by former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, his somewhat softened tone in accepting the Republican nomination Thursday night was a welcome relief. “He’s much improved,” Dave Struthers, a 57-year-old farmer from Collins, Iowa, said as he watched Trump’s speech in the basement of his farmhouse. “The thing I’ve had […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Former President Barack Obama speaks in Athens, Greece, June 21, 2023. Democrats at the high...

Associated Press

Obama’s dilemma: Balancing Democrats’ worry about Biden and maintaining influence with president

WASHINGTON (AP) — Former President Barack Obama has a delicate balance to strike: how to weigh the mounting opposition to President Joe Biden continuing his campaign with his loyalty to his former running mate. In recent days, Obama has taken calls from congressional leaders, Democratic governors and key donors in which he has shared their […]

4 hours ago

Vice President Kamala Harris arrives for an Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Town Hall, Sat...

Associated Press

Majority of Democrats think Kamala Harris would make a good president, AP-NORC poll shows

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Joe Biden faces a growing drumbeat of pressure to drop his reelection bid, a majority of Democrats think his vice president would make a good president herself. A new poll from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 6 in 10 Democrats believe Kamala Harris would do […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

How bootcamps are helping to address the historic gap in internet access on US tribal lands

There’s a home movie theater with orange walls and plush recliners at the top of a steep hill on Matthew Rantanen’s ranch in Southern California. But on a recent afternoon, people weren’t flocking to the room to watch a movie or to escape the scorching heat, they were shining a beam of light through more […]

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Kansas abortion providers face new rule after veto overriden