By John Celock
Kansas lawmakers advanced legislation Wednesday that will ban dismemberment abortions in the state.
The House of Representatives passed on a voice vote legislation, which has previously passed the state Senate to prohibit the practice, which can occur in pregnancies following 13 weeks. Supporters said it would protect the rights of the unborn while opponents said that the bill would cut off access to a procedure that a woman might need for her own health. This is the latest in a series of pro-life bills passed by Kansas lawmakers in recent years.
“This is a very narrow ban that deals with one procedure,” Rep. Becky Hutchins (R-Holton) said. “Tearing the developing fetus apart limb by limb is an act of depravity.”
Opponents of the bill dominated the floor debate. Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills), a moderate Republican who has been a leader against abortion bans in the state, told her colleagues that the dismemberment procedures might be needed in order to save a woman’s life. Bollier offered an amendment in order to allow for procedures to save a women’s life
She cited a woman’s water breaking and a need for an immediate action in the event the fetus is not viable. Bollier, a retired physician, said the practice would be able to save the woman’s life and also allow her to have a child in the future.
“Current procedure allows for a dilation and extraction to make sure this woman can have another baby and doesn’t die,” Bollier said. “That may not be the first line a physician will choose, a physician may want to induce labor. A doctor’s goal is to allow to do what is safest. In a tragic circumstance that may be what’s safest.”
House Federal and State Affairs Committee Chairman Steve Brunk (R-Wichita), who was carrying the bill on the House floor, told Bollier that the procedures to save a woman’s life can be practiced under the bill and the amendment was not needed. He said that 28 doctors who submitted testimony to his committee did not think the amendment was needed.
“I would oppose this amendment,” Brunk said. “This bill has written carefully and has been vetted by legal minds to ensure it meets muster with the courts.”
Bollier objected to Brunk saying that doctors need more clarity than is in the current bill.
“The real question is do we want women who are faced with these tragic circumstances of losing their wanted child, of losing their wanted child,” Bollier said. “To make it worse that doctors in this state are afraid to take care of you because they do not have clarity in the law. This does not change any of the carefully crafted language of this bill. It only adds in clarification.”
Bollier’s amendment failed on a voice vote.
House Democratic Policy Chairman John Wilson (D-Lawrence) said that he believe the focus should be on preventing unwanted pregnancies and increasing sex education and contraception in the state. He and other Democrats would be able to reduce the amount of abortions in the state.
Wilson said that he believed that the House could unite in a bipartisan fashion.
“Preventing unintended pregnancies is one of those things,” Wilson said.
Rep. Carolyn Bridges (D-Wichita) said that she wanted to address issues relating to children and said Republicans are only focused on the unborn.
“I’m ashamed that we protect unborn babies but don’t fund schools to educate them,” Bridges said. “I’m ashamed that we protect unborn babies but don’t give them health care. Some people care about them in the womb but we don’t take care of them afterwards.”
Rep. Mike Kiegrel (R-Olathe) used his floor speech to compare abortion to a host of historical events including the testing by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele on twins and World War II Nazi concentration camps. He said that the unborn child can feel the pain of the abortion procedure.
“Abortion is evil. Abortionists don’t care about women,” Kiegrel said. “They take the money. You can buy an abortion in the first trimester as easy as you can buy a can of Coke.”
Kiegrel also questioned why states provide peaceful deaths for those on death row.
“Unless a mass murderer gets a muscle relaxant and who knows what other perks, so their death is painless. Why can’t an unborn child?” Kiegrel said. “I’ll tell you why, it’s about money. Abortion is a big industry.”
Rep. Melissa Rooker (R-Fairway), a moderate Republican, took to the floor to strike back at Kiegrel’s comments, saying that he should not have made the comparisons.
“Don’t’ diminish the historical perspective of those crimes by bringing them here today,” Rooker said.