Crime & Courts

House unable to override abortion veto

TOPEKA — The House fell short of an attempt Friday to override the governor's veto of a bill that would have increased the reporting requirements for late-term abortions.

Senate substitute for House Bill 2115 would have required doctors performing an abortion after 22 weeks to include the exact medical diagnosis that necessitated the procedure.

Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, said the changes would help ensure that Kansas' late-term abortion law was being properly enforced.

The vote was 82-40, just short of the 84 votes needed for the two-thirds majority required to override a veto. But the issue could come back up again during the veto session.

Rep. Judith Loganbill, D-Wichita, said the bill was a "complete redo of the reporting requirements."

Statistics collected by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment showed that the number of late-term abortions were dropping in the state, she said.

In 2008, 3 percent of the abortions in Kansas were performed at 22 weeks or later in the pregnancy, she said. In 2009, that rate dropped to 1.3 percent.

Wichita physician George Tiller was one of the few doctors in the country who performed late-term abortions. He was shot to death last year in his church.

State law bans abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy unless a physician certifies that continuing the pregnancy would cause serious harm to the woman. But doctors don't give the diagnosis on reports submitted to the state.

Anti-abortion groups have long said abortion clinics use bogus diagnoses to justify late-term abortion on demand.

Kinzer said the debate wasn't about statistics but rather the value of human life.

"Regardless of the numbers, whether it is 1 or 1,000, we have an interest to make sure we have a law that is appropriate and enforceable," he said.

The second override attempt could happen Monday.