News Columns & Blogs

House overrides governor's late-term abortion veto

TOPEKA – The Kansas House mustered enough votes Monday to override the governor’s veto of a bill that requires more detailed diagnoses for late-term abortions.

On Friday, the chamber narrowly missed the two-thirds majority – 84 votes – needed to override a veto. Through a procedural motion, the chamber reconsidered the motion Monday and the override passed 86-35.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where it would have to again receive a two-thirds majority before the override became official. When the bill passed, the Senate the vote was 24-15, three votes shy of 27 that will be needed to overturn the veto.

The measure, Senate substitute for House Bill 2115, would require physicians performing an abortion after the 22nd week of pregnancy to give a detailed diagnosis for why the procedure was justified.

The bill would also allow a woman, her husband or parents if she was minor to later sue a physician if they thought the abortion was performed illegally.

Topeka Democrat Annie Kuether said the bill did nothing to prevent late-term abortions and set a “very dangerous precedent” by opening the door for lawsuits.

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.

For more, read Tuesday’s Wichita Eagle.