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Late-term abortion bill veto appears likely

TOPEKA – A bill changing the state's late-term abortion laws seems unlikely to find a friendly reception on the governor's desk.

Shortly before midnight Tuesday, lawmakers approved the negotiated proposal. The votes fell short of veto-proof majorities in both chambers.

While he hasn't read the bill, Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat, said Wednesday that the state's current law stuck a good balance reflecting the different views on the issue.

"We should only amend it or change it if there are compelling reasons to do so," he said.

Parkinson said he would take a close look at the bill before making a final decision. Shortly before leaving to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed a similar measure.

"Decisions involving abortion are best made by the women involved their family, their pastors and their doctors they are not best made by legislators," he said.

The proposal, which was instated into what was originally a utility bill, would require doctors give the specific medical diagnosis to justify a late-term abortion.

Kansas allows late-term abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy in limited circumstances. George Tiller of Wichita was one of a handful of physicians providing late-term abortions nationwide. His clinic was closed after he was shot to death in his church last May.

The measure, inserted into House Bill 2115, also would allow a woman, her husband — or her parents if she is younger than 18 — to sue an abortion provider if they believed a late-term abortion was performed illegally.

And it would define a viable fetus as one in which “there is a reasonable probability that the life of the child can be continued indefinitely outside the mother’s womb with natural or artificial life-supportive measures.”