Brownback signs abortion restrictions into law

Gov. Sam Brownback today signed a bill to put strict regulations on abortion clinics and hospitals that allow abortions, and restrict how doctors provide their patients with abortion-inducing drugs.

Brownback signed House Substitute for Senate Bill 36, which requires abortion clinics to be licensed and comply with a long list of medical standards and practices.

Abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy will be allowed only at a hospital or surgical center and doctors can only perform abortions within 30 miles of a hospital where they have admitting privileges.

Physicians also will be required to have at least one other person in the room — and the doctor or observer has to be female — to perform an abortion or related pelvic examination.

The most contentious part of the new law was a section requiring that a woman who undergoes a medication-induced abortion to take the drugs in the presence of her doctor.

Rep. Barbara Bollier, R-Mission Hills, a physician, argued during House debate that there is no medical reason for a woman to have to take the drugs in a doctor’s office. She said side effects from a medication-induced abortion are much like a miscarriage and women would rather go through it in the comfort of their home.

The bill is one of three anti-abortion measures passed by the Legislature this session.

The other bills:

– prohibit insurance companies from providing abortion coverage as part of their regular health-care plans.

– outlaw abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy, based on disputed research that the fetus can feel pain at that point of development.

– require girls younger than 18 to get both parents’ or a judge’s permission before having an abortion.

Brownback has already signed the fetal-pain and parental consent bills, consistent with his earlier pledge to sign any pro-life legislation that crosses his desk.