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Kansas Senate approves proposed ban on abortion procedure

February 20, 2015

TOPEKA, Kansas (AP) — A U.S. national group’s push to outlaw and redefine as “dismemberment” a procedure commonly used in second trimester abortions advanced Friday in Kansas, with the state Senate’s approval of what could become the country’s first ban of the practice.

The bill approved on a 31-9 vote is model legislation drafted by the National Right to Life Committee as part of its long-running efforts to restrict abortion incrementally. The group first unveiled the proposal in Kansas last month, but similar legislation is pending in other states, including Missouri and Oklahoma.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 established a nationwide right to abortion. But conservatives have been trying to restrict access to the procedure ever since.

The national group saw an opening to ban the dilation and evacuation procedure after the U.S. Supreme Court in 2007 upheld a federal ban on a late-term procedure described by opponents as “partial birth abortion.” Abortion rights advocates argue that lawmakers should not rule out a procedure if a doctor believes it’s a woman’s best medical option.

The measure bans what doctors call the dilation and evacuation procedure, used in about 8 percent of abortions in Kansas, redefining it legally as “dismemberment abortion.”

“It is unimaginable how such a procedure could be utilized by a medical practitioner,” said Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce.

According to abortion rights advocates, the procedure is often the safest way to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester, but the ban could outlaw some earlier abortions.

The bill goes next to the House where there’s also a strong anti-abortion majority.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, has pledged to sign the ban if it clears the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Abortion foes in the Senate described the procedure they’re trying to ban as “barbaric” and “gruesome.” Their bill bans the use clamps, forceps or similar instruments on a fetus so the tissue can be removed from the womb, making exceptions if the procedure is necessary to save a woman’s life or prevent serious, irreversible harm to her physical health.

Kansas already bans most abortions at or after the 22nd week of pregnancy.

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Online:

Anti-abortion bill: http://bit.ly/1K53VBL

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna

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