TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly vetoed a bill Friday that would have penalized doctors accused of not providing enough care to babies born alive during certain types of abortion procedures.
In a statement on his website, Kelly, a Democrat, called the legislation “misleading and unnecessary.”
The legislation could subject doctors to lawsuits and criminal charges in certain types of abortions and in circumstances where doctors induce labor to deliver a fetus expected to die within minutes or even seconds outside the womb. Kelly vetoed a similar bill in 2019.
“Federal law already protects newborns, and the procedure described in this bill does not exist in Kansas in the age of modern medicine,” Kelly said Friday. “The purpose of this bill is to interfere with medical decisions that should remain between doctors and their patients.”
The Republican-controlled Kansas Legislature gave final approval to the bill earlier this month, and both chambers passed the bill by veto-proof majorities. Still, the bill’s fate is uncertain in the legal and political climate that has made Kansas an outlier on abortion policy among states with GOP-led legislatures.
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Even if abortion opponents manage to overcome every veto, the measure could still be challenged in court and not implemented. Lawsuits prevented Kansas from enforcing a 2015 ban on a general second-trimester abortion procedure and a 2011 law imposing additional health and safety rules on abortion providers.
Abortion opponents in Kansas have not pushed for an outright ban on abortion despite a June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the U.S. Constitution allows it. The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that access to abortion is a “fundamental” right under the state constitution, and in August 2022, voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to remove protections for abortion rights.
This bill applies not only to “failed” or “failed” abortions, but also when doctors induce labor to deliver a fetus that is expected to die within minutes or even seconds outside the womb, often due to a serious medical condition. issue. The measure was similar to a proposed law that Montana voters rejected in November.
The Kansas measure is similar to laws in several other states that require babies born alive during labor and birth abortions to go to a hospital and impose criminal penalties for doctors who fail to provide the same care that “a reasonably diligent and conscientious’ provider would do with other live births.
In Kansas, failure to provide reasonable care for such a newborn would be a felony punishable by one year of probation for a first-time offender. Additionally, the parents of the newborn and the parents or guardians of minors seeking an abortion can sue the providers.
Critics of the bill said the state would intervene in difficult medical and ethical decisions between doctors and parents. They also said parents could be forced to accept futile and expensive care.
Supporters said the measure was necessary and considered it a humanitarian issue.