Sam Brownback with a young supporter at the 2007 CPAC conference in D.C. Photo via Flickr user VictoryNH.
On the heels of Dr. George Tiller's May 31 murder outside his Wichita church, the state of Kansas has, once again, become the nation's foremost battleground over reproductive rights. In recent years Kansas tilted left, in large part due to the leadership of former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-choice moderate. But now, retiring Sen. Sam Brownback — a conservative Catholic and national spokesman for the anti-abortion rights movement — has a clear path to the GOP gubernatorial nomination, and is considered the favorite over any potential Democratic nominee.
If elected, Brownback will have an enthusiastic, Republican state legislature to work with on rolling back reproductive rights. It's worth remembering that Sebelius' HHS secretary nomination was almost derailed by that body, which forced her to deal with a series of divisive abortion-related bills during her Senate confirmation hearings. Brownback would certainly unleash those forces, moving forward on legislation that would require doctors performing late-term abortions to submit, in writing, exactly what medical risks "justify" the procedure. In April, in one of her last acts as governor, Sebelius vetoed that bill, which also would have allowed the husbands and parents of patients to sue abortion providers if they suspected the pregnant woman's health wasn't really at risk. The bill was intended to intimidate Dr. Tiller and his brethren out of business, and would stymie the work of Dr. Leroy Carhart, the physician who has promised to begin offering late-term abortions in Kansas in Tiller's stead.
Just to reiterate how radical Sam Brownback is on abortion: He regularly compares abortion to slavery and Jim Crow, and believes the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause applies to fetuses. He opposes abortion rights even in cases of rape and incest, or when the pregnant woman's health is at risk. While campaigning in the GOP presidential primary in 2007, Brownback chose abortion as "the most pressing moral issue in the U.S. today." He also said the repeal of Roe v. Wade would be "a glorious day of human liberty and freedom."
cross-posted at TAPPED