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Abortion still on agenda at Kansas Statehouse

Don't expect Kansas law-makers to skip their annual abortion debate this year just because of the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller.

It's likely that many law-makers who supported tougher restrictions on late-term abortions will try again this year. After all, they say, new rules could prevent another abortion provider from opening a new late-term abortion clinic in Kansas, or at least put new rules in place first.

And two weeks before the 2010 session begins, Sen. Tim Huelskamp is saying he'll try again to prohibit any tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Huelskamp, a Fowler Republican, pushed to de-fund Planned Parenthood last year. The measure passed the Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat.

The money going to Planned Parenthood is actually a federal grant that goes to a variety of health clinics and organizations. By law the money can't be spent on abortion-related services. Instead it pays for birth control, testing for sexually transmit-ted diseases and other serv-ices for low-income women.

Last year, Planned Parent-hood's portion amounted to $300,000.

Huelskamp said organizations that perform abortions should never receive any tax-payer subsidies, no matter what the money actually pays for.

"This is the right thing to do," Huelskamp said in an email. Funding Planned Parenthood "flies in the face of basic Kansas values... We need to get serious and let them know that they are no longer welcome at the public trough."

Tiller, whose clinic specialized in late-term abortion, was for years a lightning rod in the state's abortion debate. Lawmakers proposed laws designed to restrict his practice while he poured his own money into political races to support candidates that support abortion rights. He was shot and killed last spring in Wichita.