Saturday, May 5, 2012

KU Med singled out in abortion fight


TOPEKA — The Kansas House on Friday advanced a wide-ranging anti-abortion bill, and supporters of the measure offered a preview of a fight they intend to have with the Kansas University Medical Center.

State Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, speaking against an amendment to the bill that was sought by KU, said the school was using tax dollars to train medical residents in abortion procedures.

“What we should have done is say it is not the public policy that we are going to pay residents with taxpayer dollars to kill babies. That is what we should’ve done,” said Kinzer. “No taxpayer dollars to kill babies,” he repeated, which drew applause from anti-abortion legislators.

State Rep. John Grange, R-El Dorado, who was presiding over the House chamber at the time reminded legislators they are not supposed to applaud speakers during debate. “Please, let’s maintain respect for the institution,” he said.

The dispute has been over a provision in the bill that says no state employee can perform an abortion.

According to KU, doctors in training at the Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan. are considered state employees, and accreditation requirements say those who are being trained as obstetrics-gynecologists must gain experience with induced abortion and complications because of abortion, unless they have a religious or moral objection. The KU residents gain this experience at facilities not owned or operated by the state.

In negotiations over the past few weeks, legislators amended the bill to bypass this dispute by designating the OB-GYN medical residents weren’t state employees. But the amendment would expire in June 2013.

On Friday, state Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Assaria, sought to remove that “sunset” provision and bypassing the issue permanently. This would help KU remove this issue from any accreditation discussion, Johnson said.

But Kinzer said the bypass and one-year period was part of an accommodation to KU and that the school was trying to go back on the agreement and using a freshman legislator to do that.

“Frankly, it is disgusting to me that we are going to allow that to go on another year,” he said.

He said once the legislative session was over, anti-abortion advocates would focus on the issue of abortion training at KU Medical Center. “We’re going to deal with this and establish a longterm policy,” he said.

Johnson’s amendment failed, 44-62.

After the vote, the KU Medical Center said: “KU will continue to work with policymakers to ensure the goals are clear: Maintaining a strong and accredited medical residency program for our state. We applaud those who have worked with us to craft language which will protect our accreditation and today were supportive of efforts to make that language a permanent provision and not have it expire.”

Later, House Minority Leader Paul Davis, D-Lawrence, who supports abortion rights, said Kinzer “displayed some candor on what his intentions are.”

Davis added, “He made it very clear that there is a viewpoint in the House that is not concerned with the accreditation issue and they would like to go on a collision course,” with the Medical Center.

A final vote on the entire bill is expected Monday.

The overall legislation would declare abortions illegal if they are performed only because a woman doesn’t like the gender of the fetus.

The bill also requires physicians to inform women seeking an abortion about the risk of breast cancer. A large body of research says there is no link between abortion and breast cancer.

The bill also would have the effect of creating new taxes on expenses related to abortion services or insurance coverage for abortion, and imposes state sales taxes on drugs and medications used in an abortion.