Kansas Governor Vetoes One, Signs Two Anti-Choice Bills

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius (D) vetoed a bill on Friday that would have given the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) increased control over abortion clinics, allowing the department to single out abortion providers to meet standards above and beyond what other physicians must meet. The Feminist Majority sent a letter to Governor Sebelius urging her to veto this bill. Legislation such as this, referred to as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Provider (TRAP) bills, is often used by anti-choice lobbyists to limit abortion access by forcing clinics in the state to invest large amounts of money in the renovation of their buildings and in staff increases. TRAP legislation leads to clinic closures in many areas and to sharp increases in the cost of an abortion in the clinics that remain open.

“The legislature has chosen pure politics over good policy, has rejected uniform standards for all procedures, and has instead chosen to regulate only one procedure – abortion,” Governor Sebelius said in a statement on Friday. The Associated Press reports that anti-choice legislators are likely to attempt to override the Governor’s veto, as the bill passed both the state House and Senate with a two-thirds majority (which the number of votes required to override a veto). According to the National Abortion Federation, 12 states considered TRAP legislation in 2004, with Mississippi enacting such a law.

Governor Sebelius also signed into law two anti-choice bills on Friday. The first law will allocate $300,000 of state funds to provide matching grants to crisis pregnancy centers. The other law, to take effect July 1, will require doctors to preserve fetal tissue from abortions performed on girls under the age of 14. The tissue will then be sent along with the patient’s name and address, as well as the names and addresses of her parents or guardians, to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for DNA testing, the Associated Press reports. Pro-choice activists in the state are concerned that this law will violate the privacy of patients. “We believe that it will be found to be unconstitutional,” Julie Burkhart, a lobbyist with ProKanDo, an abortion rights state PAC, told the Associated Press.

The Feminist Majority urged Governor Sebelius to veto the fetal tissue bill due to the risk it poses to the civil liberties of women who obtain abortions. “If the intent of the bill’s supporters was to truly seek out child rapists,” the letter stated, “all types of facilities that treat or advise minors would fall under this legislation.”

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Associated Press/Wichita Eagle 4/16/05; Associated Press/Kansas City Star 4/16/05; Governor SebeliusÕ Statement 4/15/05; Letters from the Feminist Majority to Governor Sebelius 4/12/05

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