New Front in Abortion Wars: The Kansas Governor’s Mansion


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

One thought on “New Front in Abortion Wars: The Kansas Governor’s Mansion

  1. kathy ostrowski

    You are incorrect that, under the bill Sebelius vetoed, an abortionist could be sued by someone with a half-baked suspicion or malevolent intent. You may have been lead to this mistake by Sebelius’ self-serving veto claim that the bill would unfairly intimidate good faith abortionists.

    The current Kansas late-term law allows the practitioner plenty of “medical elbow room” to assess health and perform abortions past 21 weeks 1)if the fetus cannot live outside the mother with or without medical assistance, or 2) if the fetus CAN live, but the mother would suffer death or irreversible and substantial physical or mental harm. The late-term law also requires an independent medical referral and proper reporting to the health department (without personal information that identifies the aborted female).

    The proposed vetoed bill [ included a provision [pg7, section 4 G]granting standing to sue to parents of a minor, or the spouse who is also the fetus’ father, after discovering a post-21 week abortion did not follow the late-term requirements.

    The bill’s provision for suing compares to the civil suit against OJ. It would have given standing to bring forth a suit to limited parties with an interest in the aborted woman–but certainly not for frivolous opinions about health.


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