Gov. Sam Brownback promised Thursday to sign legislation to ban a procedure used in about 8 percent of the abortions in Kansas and described by critics as dismembering a fetus.
Brownback made his pledge to hundreds of abortion opponents during a Statehouse rally marking the 42nd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court, which affirmed abortion as a constitutional right. The event – as well as workshops and a Catholic Mass – were sponsored by Kansans for Life, the most influential anti-abortion group at the state Capitol.
Brownback, a Republican, has signed multiple measures restricting abortion or imposing new restrictions on providers since taking office in January 2011. The latest proposal, which hasn’t yet been filed, was drafted by the National Right to Life Committee, has the strong backing of Kansans for Life, and is described by both groups as a first-of-its-kind measure that could be a template for other states.
“That bill should pass,” Brownback declared. “I’ll sign it.”
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Kansas already bans most abortions at or after the 22nd week of pregnancy, but the new measure would prevent some pregnancies from being terminated earlier. It would ban doctors from using forceps, tongs or other medical instruments on the fetus in the womb in a procedure known as dilation and evacuation.
Abortion-rights advocates maintained a low profile on the Roe v. Wade anniversary. Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the anniversary is an opportunity to urge legislators not to interfere with women’s health care decisions.
“The politicians pushing these restrictions are on the wrong side of medical science, the wrong side of public opinion, and the wrong side of history,” she said in a statement.
The state Department of Health and Environment said the targeted method was used in about 600 of the almost 7,500 abortions in Kansas in 2013, the latest data available.