One of the new measures prohibits abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, because of evidence that unborn babies can feel pain by that time, while the other law, among other provisions, bans abortionists from performing the procedure on minors without written consent from parents. Both laws go into effect in July.
Commenting on the newly passed “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” (H.B. 2218), Mary Spaulding Bach of the National Right to Life Committee noted the abundant scientific evidence showing “that unborn children recoil from painful stimuli, that their stress hormones increase, and that they require anesthesia for fetal surgery. Therefore, the states have a compelling interest in protecting unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion.”
Bach pointed out that Kansas is the second state to pass legislation recognizing the ability of pre-born babies to feel pain and banning abortions for that reason, adding that pro-life leaders “expect Idaho and Oklahoma to follow within days — and other state legislatures will be voting on similar bills this year.”
State Representative Lance Kinzer, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and who authored both bills, said that passage of the measures represented a “tremendous day” for the state. “It’s been a long road for the pro-life movement in Kansas to get to this stage — not just a matter of years but going back decades, quite frankly.”
Kinzer said that he introduced the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act because “we know an awful lot more about fetal development and fetal pain than when Roe v. Wade was decided.” He listed significant studies and scientific articles confirming that pre-born babies can feel pain by at least 22 weeks, adding that “the medical evidence is compelling and well-documented.”
State Representative Steve Brunk, another key pro-life Kansas legislator who helped shepherd both bills, said that passage of H.B. 2218 was “a significant advancement in the public discourse that the child in the mother’s womb is a living human being. Before, viability was defined by our ability to keep a child alive outside the womb based on the existing technology, not the development of the human being. This provides a more appropriate benchmark for late-term abortions. It is past due and appropriate that this kind of legislation should be passed in state legislatures across the country.”
The other bill signed by Brownback, the “Accuracy in Abortion Reporting and Parental Rights Act (H.B. 2035), requires that an abortionist have written, notarized permission from a parent or legal guardian of a pregnant teen before performing an abortion.
In addition, the law requires that abortion clinics provide women with literature explaining that “abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique living human being,” and expands the definition of abortion beyond a surgical procedure to include “the use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device to terminate the pregnancy.”
Finally, the law requires that staff who work at facilities serving pregnant teenagers report all instances of child sexual abuse. A provision in the bill also allows for family members or former patients to sue an abortionist or clinic if there is sufficient evidence proving there was a violation of the law.
Pro-abortion activists complained that both bills would negatively impact women’s health. Speaking of H.B. 2218, Peter Brownlie of Planned Parenthood of Kansas/Mid-Missouri, insisted that “an abortion that takes place after 22 weeks into a pregnancy is most often necessary because of a severe fetal indication or serious medical condition that endangers the life or health of the mother.”
Of course, the argument in favor of abortion where a baby may have a severe physical deformity or other life-impacting condition is a deeply immoral one, giving humans the right to make life-and-death decisions for which only God is qualified. The stories are myriad of mothers who decided against a doctor’s advice to have an abortion, only to deliver babies who were whole and healthy, or who, in spite of their limitations, nonetheless brought joy to their families and glory to their Maker.
As for the argument that abortion is sometimes necessary to save the life of a mother, physicians and pro-life leaders have pointed out that with today’s medical technology, such a contingency is nearly non-existent, and the argument is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to justify a murderous procedure.
The American Life League notes, for example, that while some medical treatments may indirectly lead to the death of a child in the womb (such as for an ectopic pregnancy or some cancers), in today’s medical practice there are “virtually no conditions that threaten the mother's life in which abortion is a medically recognized treatment.”
And none other than abortion rights champion Dr. Alan Guttmacher, former president of Planned Parenthood, declared back in 1967 that “it is possible for almost any patient to be brought through pregnancy alive, unless she suffers from a fatal illness such as cancer or leukemia, and if so, abortion would be unlikely to prolong, much less save life.”
Speaking against the other legislation, H.B. 2035, Julie Burkhart of the pro-abortion group Trust Women said the new law would force women “to navigate intricate and likely biased judicial proceedings in order to circumvent the double parental consent provision included in the bill.” She predicted that both new pro-life laws “will not reduce the rate of abortion. They will force women to seek other means.”
By contrast Troy Newman, president of the pro-life group Operation Rescue, applauded both measures, calling them “commonsense regulations that should have been put in place a decade ago.”
In signing the pro-life bills, Governor Brownback said both pieces of legislation represent important steps toward creating a culture of life in Kansas. “It is our calling to support the dignity of every human being,” the Governor explained, “whether that person is unemployed, undereducated, or unborn. These bills establish that Kansas in the heart of America is a culture of life state and we’re not going back.”