Kansas Governor Torpedoes Reform of Late-term Abortion Ban

Democratic Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson has followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, US Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius, by vetoing a bill that would have discouraged late-term abortionists from taking up the role left vacant by murdered late-term abortionist George Tiller.

The measure, S Sub HB 2115, would have allowed patients or family members (such as a husband, domestic partner, or a minor girl’s parents) to file civil actions against abortionists if they have evidence that an abortion violated Kansas law.

The law would also have required abortionists to report the actual medical diagnosis to the state used to justify abortions killing unborn children after the 21st week of pregnancy.

Contrary to other media reports, the law did not change the definition of viability from the previous 1998 law.

“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,” said Dr. Paul McHugh, in a statement provided by Operation Rescue. “Parkinson’s veto is virtually inviting illegal late-term abortions to continue in Kansas.

“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.”

McHugh, a psychiatrist and professor at Johns Hopkins University, examined redacted abortion records from Tiller’s practice during an investigation by then-Attorney General Phill Kline, and discovered that Tiller was giving illegal abortions to women who were experiencing “single episode depression.”

Tiller concealed this fact on the reporting forms he would send to the state, according to McHugh’s findings, and would simply check the box for “irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”

A House version, HB 2166, would have specified that the law’s abortion exception for bodily function would exclude mental or emotional functions, but that clause never made it into the conference bill with the Senate.

Parkinson’s veto was buried at the end of a very long press release that primarily dealt with signing the shield law for journalists. “I support the current law and believe that an annual legislative battle over the issue is not in the public’s best interest,” wrote Parkinson.

In a similar fashion to Sebelius, he said that he viewed “all abortions are tragedies.” Nevertheless, Parkinson added, “I would not encourage women to consult with state legislators, as this is a private decision and should not be dictated by public officials.”

Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of Kansans for Life, blasted Parkinson in a statement.

“It is completely disingenuous for him to suggest that legislators, as representatives of the people (mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, etc.) have no right to weigh in on laws that affect a for-profit industry that has complete control of young women during a secretive, crisis-driven moment that will affect the rest of their physical and emotional lives,” said Culp.

In a telephone interview Friday afternoon with LifeSiteNews.com, Culp said that the law would have prevented Kansas abortionists from obscuring the specific medical basis for the abortion, their routine method for flouting the law on late-term abortions.

The Kansas Legislature reconvenes on April 28 in order to discuss budgetary matters and could attempt to override the veto, but would need a two-thirds majority. If the legislature fails to override Parkinson’s veto, Kansas would likely have to wait until a pro-life governor - possibly GOP front-runner and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback - takes office in 2011.

Culp told LSN that the possibility of a veto-override at this point was a toss-up: while it was likely pro-life advocates had a two-thirds majority in the House, she said, they did not have that advantage in the Senate. Nevertheless, Culp believes the pro-life cause in Kansas does have a chance, especially after more than half the U.S. public identified themselves as “pro-life” in a recent poll.

“We’re making the case in the press, and hopefully [the Senate] will realize that the public views this as so reasonable, and that they might actually be hurting themselves by not voting to override,” she said.

“So it is a real toss-up, but I’ll tell you: if anyone votes against this, we’re going to make it a goal of ours to make their lives miserable when they come up for re-election two years from now.”

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