Friday, April 29, 2005

Kansas Anti-Abortion Bill Veto Sticks

Apr 28, 10:07 PM EDT
Kansas Anti-Abortion Bill Veto Sticks

Associated Press Writer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Anti-abortion lawmakers failed Thursday to override Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' veto of a bill imposing additional regulations on clinics that perform abortions.

The state House vote was 82-42 - two votes short of the minimum needed to send the bill to the Senate, where some supporters felt they had the votes to put the legislation into law.

"It's the kind of vote that's going to come back and haunt legislators who voted against it and the governor," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life. "The people of Kansas understand the need for this."

The bill would have required clinics to obtain an annual license from the Department of Health and Environment, hire surgeons as their medical directors and report patient deaths to the state within the day. It also would have required state standards for equipment, medical screenings, ventilation and lighting.

Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the bill's "only purpose is to make access to reproductive health care in Kansas difficult."

"We will make our thousands of supporters know the legislators courageous enough to stand with the governor on this," he said.

In her veto message, Sebelius, who supports abortion rights, criticized lawmakers for choosing "pure politics over good policy." She said standards for abortion providers should be set by medical professionals rather than the Legislature. It was the same argument she made when she spiked a similar bill in 2003.

In Florida, meanwhile, a conservative religious rights advocacy group filed complaints asking two state agencies to discipline an Orlando clinic that it alleges mishandled an abortion involving a live birth.

The Liberty Counsel asked that the EPOC clinic have its license revoked, be ordered to stop performing abortions and that its doctors be disciplined. The complaints were filed Wednesday with the Florida Department of Health and state Agency for Health Care Administration.

The complaints allege unsanitary conditions at the clinic, that a doctor wasn't present and a lack of postoperative care for a woman receiving an abortion.

According to the complaints, a 22-weeks-pregnant woman alleged she received medication to induce contractions, but that no doctor was present when she returned the following day and began to go into labor.

The fetus, delivered live, died shortly afterward, the complaints said.

Dr. James Pendergraft, who owns the clinic, didn't return a phone call. A spokeswoman, Marti Mackenzie, said, "It absolutely never happened."

Besides Kansas, lawmakers in Texas, Virginia and West Virginia were considering bills this year to regulate clinics that perform abortions, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The group said 26 states require some abortions be performed in hospitals or other facilities, while 23 states apply certain restrictions on abortion providers.


Associated Press Writer Mike Schneider contributed to this report from Orlando, Fla.