Thursday, February 7, 2013

Supporters of new abortion bill say KU working to solve issue

By SCOTT ROTHSCHILD, The Lawrence Journal-World

A wide-ranging bill that would regulate abortion more strictly in Kansas was introduced in the House on Wednesday, but it includes language that key legislators said would allow Kansas University medical students to receive privately funded abortion training.

Supporters of the bill said they believe that provision, worked out in a deal with KU Medical Center, would allay concerns that the tougher regulations could jeopardize accreditation of the medical school’s obstetrics and gynecology program.

“I think we are going to be in a posture where there isn’t going to be a KU issue with this bill,” said Rep. Lance Kinzer, R-Olathe, who is a vocal opponent of abortion.

C.J. Janovy, a spokeswoman for the KU Medical Center, said, “While we haven’t yet seen a final copy of the measure that was introduced this morning, we believe we have found an administrative remedy that would not put our residency programs at risk if the language described were to become law.”

Last year, a major battle erupted over a bill banning the use of state funds for abortions.

Among the many provisions of that bill was one that would have prevented state employees, including doctors in training at the medical center in Kansas City, Kan., from performing abortions on state property or state time.

KU Medical Center officials voiced concerns that the accreditation of its obstetrics and gynecology program would be in danger under that provision.

Legislators added a provision saying medical residents could do abortion training off-site, on their own time, for a year. But the Medical Center wanted a permanent exception.

The bill was approved by the House but eventually died in the Senate after then-Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, sent it back to committee, citing concerns about the bill’s impact on the medical center.

In the new version of the bill, Kinzer and Rep. Steve Brunk, R-Wichita, said KU will use private dollars to pay the residents, rather than public funds.

“For purposes of this bill, if they have a process set up where those folks are truly, completely, hermetically sealed off from any state dollars, then this bill doesn’t impact that and that is what they are working to do,” Kinzer said.

Brunk said he didn’t think the issue was completely resolved, but KU officials have been eager to seek a solution with the Legislature.

Brunk introduced House Bill 2253 in the House Federal and State Affairs Committee. The bill states that the unborn child shall have all rights and privileges available to other people.