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Archive for January, 2013

one small shot of Topeka crwd

a small sample of the Topeka March for Life crowd

The perennial sub-freezing weather has never deterred huge crowds for the annual March for Life, either in Washington D.C. or Topeka. For a story on Friday’s D. C. March, estimated to have engaged 600,000 pro-lifers, see here.

On Tuesday, Jan. 22– the actual date of the infamous U.S. Supreme Court Roe v Wade ruling– approximately 2,500 citizens, young and old–mostly young–attended the annual Kansans for Life Rally for Life in Topeka.  The day included educational workshops, religious services, and a rally at the Capitol steps to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the ruling legalizing abortion.

Pro-life Governor Sam Brownback joined 1,800 Catholic young people for Mass, ate lunch with them and those who attended the Protestant service, and then marched with them all to the south steps of the state Capitol building. Among noted “Marchers” were Catholic Bishop Michael Jaekels of Wichita and Catholic Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas.

Gov. Brownback addressed attendees about the joy found in serving others and the joy of being pro-life. He asked the marchers if they were ever going to quit fighting for life, to which they responded with a resounding NO!

Kansans for Life Development Director, David Gittrich, announced each of the  40 legislators on the steps who slipped out of committee meetings to greet the crowd and receive their applause. (This year an estimated 110 out of 145 Kansas legislators are pro-life!)

KFL Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp, told the audience,  “The cover of the new Time Magazine says that our opponents won a big victory 40 years ago with Roe v. Wade, then says ‘They’ve Been Losing Ever Since.’ Pro-life organizations, pro-life churches, pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, pro-life schools—all represented here today are a major reason they are losing and we are winning, and we thank you!

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abortion not health care (2) The Associated Press reported late Friday that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has withdrawn their failing lawsuit against a 2011 Kansas law which bars private health care insurance from covering elective abortions. The ACLU cannot file these claims again or appeal the earlier court rulings.

Under the law– like the court-approved law operating in Missouri and (de facto) in eastern Kansas for over two decades– abortions other than to save the mother’s life would not be covered unless individuals had separately  purchased “riders”. The law was sought as a “conscience” protection by

  1. employers who did not want to be forced to offer policies with abortion coverage, and
  2. employees who objected to having their health care dollars pooled into plans that paid out for abortions.

The plaintiffs were women (primarily two former Kansas abortion lobbyists) claiming they lost their abortion coverage under the new law and that it showed gender discrimination.  It was rough going for the ACLU side from the start: they did not merit an injunction, a variety of their legal claims were advanced and then scrapped, and they were told more than once that their claims “lacked evidence.”

On Jan. 7, 2013, federal Judge Julie Robinson soundly rejected the ACLU motion for a bench ruling instead of a trial, responding that, as a matter of law, the ACLU failed to provide any evidence that the Legislature’s predominant motivation in passing the law was to make it more difficult to get abortions.

Judge Robinson wrote, “Whether one agrees or disagrees with [the State's] asserted cost and/or “freedom of conscience” rationale, there is nothing in the record to show that this was not the legislature’s purpose in adopting the law. Moreover, the claimed interests are rational ones.”

Abortion supporters –who sued three of Kansas’ 2011 pro-life measures– are fond of complaining that too much money has been spent by the state on defense litigation. They argue that these pro-life laws were only sued because they are “wrong,” but in this case, the court has recognized that it was the ACLU wasting taxpayer money.

Abortion is always the taking of an innocent human life; and the upholding of  this law, which stops society from “normalizing” and mainstreaming abortion as health care, is a victory.

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BleedingKansas (2)“Bleeding Kansas” was the moniker for our state during the mid-nineteenth century when guerrilla warfare raged between forces for and against slavery, until Kansas was accepted into the Union as a slave-free state in 1861.  That disposition not to yield to evil is seen in the Wichita community’s reaction to the announced opening of a new abortion clinic at the location of the infamous late-term clinic of George Tiller.

Since the death of Tiller in May 2009, a national push to re-open his abortion clinic has been led by the abortion advocacy group, Trust Women, headed by Julie Burkhart.  Burkhart was a Tiller employee who ran his PAC (political action committee) from 2002-2009.

Yesterday, the Associated Press covered Burkhart’s announcement that the South Wind Women’s Center (SWWC) is “expected to open in the next few months with one full-time and two part-time doctors amid heightened security and community outreach efforts.”  SWWC “will offer prenatal, obstetrical and gynecological health care services as well as abortions” and “has contracted with the doctors and has hired most of the other nine or ten people it plans to employ.”

Interestingly, no physician names were divulged, nor whether they are state-licensed, or reside in Kansas.

Kansas abortion clinics are either local physician offices or single-day surgery centers licensed by the state health department (KDHE).  A public records request last week showed no official clinic application is yet on file with KDHE for the SWWC location, possibly because the names of the facility’s physicians would have to be revealed.

The AP report indicated remodeling is scheduled for the clinic to meet the abortion facility standards Kansas passed in 2011. Those licensing and inspection standards –similar to what other states have passed–were long sought by Kansas pro-lifers and were signed into law in the first term of Gov. Sam Brownback.  However, the standards are not in force due to litigation by another abortion clinic in suburban Kansas City.

In a “virtual chat” online at the Trust Women website this fall, SWWC services were touted as medical (pill) abortions, and fertility and transgender services. Burkhart continues to try to erase this community’s memory of the Tiller location as the home of an actual onsite crematorium for unborn children destroyed up through the third trimester.

Kansans for Life (KFL) contends that reopening the place as an abortion clinic would disturb what has become a quiet, residential area.  The KFL citizen petition drive–urging city officials to rezone the area– is well on its way to exceeding the goal of securing 20,000 signatures. “As Wichitans we know that when an abortion clinic opens in a neighborhood everything changes,” said David Gittrich, KFL development director. “Abortions means taxis and traffic, police cars and ambulances, barricades and signs. People who support abortion – and people who believe every abortion kills an innocent baby – come to demonstrate.”

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judge julie robinson

Judge Robinson

It’s not news that a lawsuit weighing the validity of the Kansas pro-life insurance law has been headed for trial in March 2013, but new filings that could have precluded a trial were answered by federal court Judge Julie A.Robinson on Monday.

The law bars private health care insurance from covering abortion except those done to save the mother’s life — a law that seven other states have, some (including our neighbor Missouri) for decades. Under the law, those wishing abortion coverage could purchase individual, separate policy ‘riders’.

The Kansas law was passed in 2011, with the impetus being employers’ and employees’ conscience objections to including abortions as part of health care packages.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit on behalf of several women who “lost” abortion coverage they previously had. That legal complaint has been amended several times but has not prevented the law from going into effect.

In June, the ACLU filed for summary judgment, asking that the judge rule on the legal arguments without going to trial, claiming that the legislature’s predominant purpose in passing the law was simply to impede access to abortion. The ACLU tried to fortify their arguments by citing the high cost of abortion, the animus of the legislature and the difficulty in navigating the purchase of riders.

In July, the State’s attorneys argued against that claim that the law had no rational basis and offered their own reason why the law could be upheld from the bench, without a trial. Attorneys for Kansas have stated at least four state interests served by the law:

  1. promoting childbirth over abortion;
  2. protecting the consciences of Kansans;
  3. lowering insurance costs; and
  4. making the public more aware of the actual cost of abortion.

On Monday, Judge Robinson roundly denied the ACLU’s arguments, and supported the state’s rebuttal of it, quoting her own earlier ruling, “Whether one agrees or disagrees with this asserted cost and/or “freedom of conscience” rationale, there is nothing in the record to show that this was not the legislature’s purpose in adopting the law. Moreover, the claimed interests are rational ones.”

However, while supporting the State’s rebuttal Judge Robinson did not allow Kansas attorneys their wish to also have her settle the matter without trial. She still wants to explore the issue of “undue burden,” and writes, “the Supreme Court held that showing that a statute will operate as a substantial obstacle in a large fraction of the cases in which it is relevant is sufficient, albeit not necessary, to show that the statute creates an undue burden.”

Trial submissions indicate that 137 women used insurance (not self-insured plans) to pay for elective abortion in Kansas in a one-year time frame from July 2010- July 2011. During that time, approximately 7,800 Kansas abortions were performed, so the State asserts the law does not impede a large fraction of the relevant cases. Robinson writes, “Absent more evidence, it is difficult to determine whether this burden is an undue one for a large fraction of these women,” and thus the trial is still scheduled for March.

Sadly, the question of the “burden” borne by those 137 aborted children is not up for discussion.

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