LJ World – Late-term abortion limits proposed


Late-term abortion limits proposed
By Scott Rothschild
June 26, 2007

Topeka – A key lawmaker Monday proposed banning late-term abortions in Kansas except in instances where it is necessary to save the woman’s life.

“The less exceptions that are in the law, the more luck we are going to have enforcing it,” said state Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, R-Olathe.

Speaking to a crowd of approximately 150 anti-abortion advocates, Siegfreid said he would introduce legislation in the 2008 session that would ban abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy.

Siegfreid serves as chairman of the House Federal and State Affairs Committee, so it’s likely his proposal will be approved by the committee and get a full House vote.

Siegfreid said the measure likely would prevent a woman from getting a late-term abortion even if she had been the victim of rape and incest.

“Those kinds of things should come up very quickly, very early in the process,” he said.

Late-term abortions are banned in Kansas unless they are done to save a woman’s or girl’s life or to prevent “substantial and irreversible” harm to a “major bodily function,” which has been interpreted to include mental health.

In 2006, there were 11,221 abortions performed in Kansas. In 380, or 3.5 percent, of them the fetus was at 22 weeks or more of development, according to state records. A full-term pregnancy is about 40 weeks.

Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said states may be able to further restrict abortion in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that upheld a federal ban on a certain abortion procedure.

But Julie Burkhardt, executive director of ProKanDo, a pro-choice political action committee in Kansas, said lawmakers shouldn’t adopt any more restrictions on abortion.

“The Legislature should not be in the business of making medical decisions,” Burkhardt said. “It would be best to leave these types of decisions up to qualified physicians in consultation with their patients.”

ProKanDo is heavily bankrolled by Dr. George Tiller, whose Wichita clinic has done late-term abortions.

Kinzer, Siegfreid and other anti-abortion advocates gathered Monday outside the Capitol to urge Attorney General Paul Morrison to charge Tiller with illegally performing late-term abortions. Morrison has said he would announce this month what he intends to do about an investigation of Tiller started by former Attorney General Phill Kline.