Kansas Lawmakers Approve Legislation Restricting Abortion

Kansas lawmakers approved legislation banning abortions on the basis of fetal gender and declaring that life begins at fertilization, the latest in a growing number of states to add restrictions.

The measure, which also would ban public funding for abortions, passed 90-30 in the state House of Representatives, which sent it to Governor Sam Brownback for his signature. The Senate passed the bill earlier, 28-10. Brownback, a 2008 Republican presidential candidate, opposes abortion.

Kansas becomes the latest state to set its own limits in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which legalized a woman’s right to an abortion.

“There’s almost a race under way -- a race to the bottom - - in terms of restricting a woman’s ability to make her own decisions and to try to impose a set of beliefs on all the citizens in these states,” Peter Brownlie, chief executive officer of Overland Park, Kansas-based Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said yesterday by telephone.

Alabama lawmakers this week joined six other U.S. states to require doctors performing abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges, which the legislation described as a safety measure and opponents said is an effort to close clinics. Arizona, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Tennessee and Utah have passed similar laws, said Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute in New York, which promotes sexual and reproductive health.

Brownlie said banning abortions based on gender would put the physician in the position of being an investigator to find out why a patient wants the procedure.

“An abortion is deeply personal and often complex,” Brownlie said. “It needs to be left to a woman and her family and her faith, with the counsel of her physician.”

North Dakota’s Republican Governor Jack Dalrymple in March signed a ban on abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, the narrowest window of any U.S. state. The law also bars the procedure because of genetic abnormalities, the first such measure in the nation.

In Arkansas, a near-ban on abortions from the 12th week of pregnancy onward was approved by legislators who overrode a veto by Governor Mike Beebe, a Democrat.

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