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Archive for April, 2013

stem cell patients (2)If cell therapies are indeed becoming the ‘Third Pillar of medicine’ —the title of a symposium today at the University of California at San Francisco—Kansas has positioned itself to become the global clearinghouse of those treatments. Last Friday the legislature passed Senate Bill 199 creating the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC) at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC).

Gov. Sam Brownback, long a champion of non-embryo-destructive stem cell research during his tenure as U.S. Senator for Kansas, is anticipated to sign the legislation soon, along with the Pro-Life Protections Act, House Bill 2253.

SB 199 does not mandate tax funding, although some seed money in the Kansas annual budget is not entirely off the table yet when the legislature returns in May.  But the Center will actively pursue grants from private and public sources. For example, the numerous disease foundations as well as the U.S. military, dealing with thousands of injured veterans, would have a strong interest in donating to this project.

Dr. David Prentice, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics and an international expert on the stem cell topic, has testified annually over the past decade to Kansas lawmakers about adult (non-embryonic) stem cell (ASC) treatments, including that:
•    1 in 200 Americans will undergo an ASC transplant in their lifetime;
•    over 60,000 ASC transplants occur globally each year;
•    there are over 2,600 ongoing, or completed, FDA-approved ASC trials.

As reported yesterday, the Vatican has said that its international conference this week on ethical stem cell research will aim to correct the public misperceptions of the burgeoning scientific field. The Washington Times quoted conference co-sponsor, Dr. Robin Smith,  “Regenerative medicine is poised to revolutionize disease management by finding new ways to boost the body’s ability to heal itself…

“People are dying, literally, who could be treated or cured.”

Even as the MSCTC was touted during debate on SB 199 as expanding cures and treatments that would end suffering for thousands, some Kansas lawmakers opposed it. Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) and Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) led opposition to this center as ‘meddling’ with university independence. They tried to imply that MSCTC was more pro-life politics than good science.

The real reason was sour grapes—most of these legislators have been on the wrong (and losing) side for a long time.  They and/or their mentors:
•    failed to prevent ethical limitations in the 2004 Kansas Bio-Science Authority Act governing state commerce,
•    failed to achieve embryonic stem cell and cloning initiatives from 2005-2007, and
•    failed to keep tax-funded abortion training at KUMC the past two years.

But pro-lifers won’t hold that grudge when those legislators and their families come to the MSCTC for treatments in the near future!

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fertilization (2)The Pro-Life Protections Act, HB 2253, is headed to Gov. Sam Brownback for his signature. Section two of the bill says that “the life of a human being begins at fertilization” and that Kansas will uphold the rights and privileges for all human beings except where barred by the U.S. Supreme Court.  (See legal impact of this declaration here, from National Right to Life.)

There has been much misreported about the Pro-Life Protections Act, including the impact of this declaration on fertilization (Read James Taranto here about abortion supporters’ alarmism on this.)

Section two is neither a personhood measure, nor affects birth control (protected under Kansas law here.)  “Personhood” measures attempt to defy Roe v Wade by (1) winning a state ballot initiative that declares the state constitution forbids abortion, and (2) hoping the federal courts will allow it to stand. Kansans for Life does not believe such a strategy will succeed due to the federal Supremacy Clause.

The language in section two was copied from Missouri, which the U.S. Supreme Court let stand in 1989 in its Webster decision. Thirteen states have adopted it. Under the declaration of life begins at fertilization, the state may legislate with a preference for childbirth over abortion –in effect “corraling”  Roe from  drifting into other areas.  For example, because of Roe,

  • some states don’t allow criminal prosecution for 2 victims when a pregnant woman is murdered –Kansas does allow such prosecution, under Alexa’s Law passed in 2007 (see here);
  • some states allow the filing of lawsuits for compensation that a disabled child exists that ‘should have been aborted’ — these are wrongful birth lawsuits that Kansas now doesn’t allow, under the newly passed Kansas law, “Civil rights of the Unborn.”

The reality is that every state has been working for 40 years –either to promote abortion or to promote life –and Kansas is pro-life. Being a pro-life state is more than passing law, it is how our citizens stand against the forces that push abortion. Our state has continued to increase the number of centers across the state where pregnant women can get free assistance.

KANSAS LAW BACKGROUND

In 1973, the Roe Court cherry-picked some language to define a “constitutional” person such that homicide of the unborn could be accepted. But it was never denied that unborn were human beings, just that they could be aborted because they were not “protected constitutional persons” like their mother and the abortionist.

In 2007, for purposes of criminal prosecution, Kansas legally defined “person” and “human being” to include “unborn child” and  furthered defined unborn child as “a living individual organism of the species homo sapiens, in utero at any stage of gestation from fertilization to birth.” (see here)

In 2011, for purposes of abortion informed consent, Kansas adopted the South Dakota statement (approved by the eighth circuit appellate court in 2008) that “abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living, human being.” (see here, section b(5))

Now in 2013, the legislature has officially adopted the scientific fact that life begins at fertilization as an undergirding for further public policies.

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Rep. Lance Kinzer

Rep. Lance Kinzer

Rep. Arlen Siegfried

Rep. Arlen Siegfreid

Late Friday evening, as the legislative session was ending, the Kansas legislature passed three pro-life bills that Kansans for Life is confident pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback will sign.

Due to late amendments, all the measures were procedurally re-affirmed by both chambers as “conference committee recommendations” and passed by large margins.

House Judiciary chair, Lance Kinzer (R-Olathe), drafted the lead bill for the last two sessions, the Pro-Life Protections Act. He commented,

 “These measures represent a significant step forward in our ongoing effort to advance thoughtful and targeted legislation that both defends innocent human life and protects women who are so often exploited by the abortion industry.”

The Pro-life Protections Act of 2013, HB 2253, was carried by Rep. Arlen Siegfreid (R- Olathe) and passed 90-30 in the House and 28-10 in the Senate. HB 2253 codifies abortion informed consent materials authorized by the state health department, and removes all tax streams that pay for abortion and give advantages to abortion businesses.

The informed consent section has an added mandate for the state department to facilitate medical information access and community support for families facing pre-birth and post-birth diagnoses of Down Syndrome and other conditions.

HB 2253 assures taxpayers are not directly funding abortion or abortion training at the state university, and forbids state discrimination against pro-life citizens and entities.

Rep.David Crum

Rep. David Crum

Rep.John Rubin

Rep. John Rubin

As of this week, HB 2253 now includes SB 141, the ban on abortions done solely for the gender of the unborn child. This ban was passed earlier in the session by the Senate, and passed last year in the House as a provision in another bill. Kansas will join Illinois, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and Arizona, in banning sex selection abortions.

The second measure secured Friday was SB 199, with votes of 90-30 in the House, 31-8 in the Senate. It establishes a unique Midwest Center for Stem Cell Therapy at University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) in collaboration with the Blood and Marrow Transplant Center of Kansas and the Via Christi Cancer Institute in Wichita. Rep. David Crum (R-Augusta) carried the bill.

The Center will expand ongoing “adult” and “cord blood” treatments and become a global clinical and educational resource for cures and treatments that do not use embryonic or fetal tissues. The Center will fill a void by producing clinical grade stem cells, increasing clinical trials in this region, maintaining a comprehensive stem cell database, and creating educational training modules.

The third bill that passed (which Kansans for Life supported) is HB 2164, by a vote count of  92- 28 in the House and 26-12 in the Senate. Under this bill, grand juries summoned by citizen petitions will be better protected from being undermined by local district attorneys.  A citizen-petitioned grand jury is an important watchdog tool, which has been used in Kansas to challenge government agencies not upholding pro-life and pro-family laws.

Last month, Kansas passed SB 142, “Unborn Civil Rights for the Unborn,” which outlaws civil actions of “wrongful birth” and “wrongful life” on behalf of disabled children. It was carried by House Corrections chair, John Rubin (R-Shawnee).

OPPONENTS’ TALKING POINTS CORRECTED:

Abortion supporters continue to mischaracterize these bills—even during debate in both chambers Friday night–so here are some needed corrections. Under these pro-life bills:

  • only abortions done solely for sex selection are banned, otherwise abortions for any reason, including rape, remain legal until the 22nd week of pregnancy, and after that time, can be obtained to preserve the life of the mother or prevent irreversible and substantial physical damage to her;
  • hospitals suffer no penalties for treating life-of-the-mother crises including both ectopic pregnancies and emergencies throughout 9 months;
  • the updated informed consent materials (created by KDHE since 1997) do not contain misinformation, do not say abortion causes breast cancer, and do not force any abortion provider to tell women ANYTHING because the materials are written and online;
  • the acknowledgment that ‘life begins at fertilization’ is language approved in 1989 by the U.S. Supreme Court, and adopted by 13 other states–it does not challenge abortion decisions at the federal or state level;
  • there was no money “taken” from the KUMC budget for the adult stem center, and the center is not hostage to politics, but is expanding on successful medical treatments ALREADY under way at KUMC and across the state.

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Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook

The Kansas Pro-Life Protections Act (HB 2253) passed the Senate by a vote of 29-11, after a nearly 3-hour debate Monday that focused on extraneous amendments offered by pro-abortion Democrat Senators.

Only one amendment (tweaking the tax code) was adopted. Because of that, HB 2253 must procedurally be “re-passed” in the House before heading to Gov. Sam Brownback’s desk.

The Pro-Life Protections Act actually enacts no new restrictions on abortion, rather it:

  • recognizes that life begins at fertilization for purposes of public policy decisions;
  • prevents state discrimination against pro-life entities;
  • restricts tax-payer funding for abortion;
  • defunds abortion training at the state university medical school;
  • keeps abortion businesses out of public school sex-ed;
  • codifies informed consent topics already used by the state health department;
  • strengthens medical and community support for Down Syndrome & other conditions.

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee), Chair of the Health committee, introduced and defended HB 2253 as positive and protective legislation. She had her hands full explaining what the bill didn’t contain when rebutting senators repeating the spin that liberal pro-abortion forums like the Huffington Post have spewed for two years.

Sen. David Haley (D-Kansas City), who ordinarily causes pro-lifers to groan, really startled observers Monday by first complaining that abortion opponents “impose narrow Taliban-like philosophies” and then with his repeated–and bizarre– claim that “this bill would empower rapists.” Haley twice admitted in debate that “he didn’t know what was in the bill,” even though he was in the committee that took testimony and ‘worked’ the bill!

Haley offered three hostile amendments that failed; the first one was identical to the Wilson amendment which was offered and failed 2 weeks ago during House debate on this same bill.  Though described as limiting three abortion laws for women pregnant by assault, the language actually would invalidate ALL Kansas abortion statutes, including—just to name a few– informed consent, parental involvement, physician penalties, and protection of unborn children who feel pain.

Haley’s  second amendment was described as keeping birth control legal, which is already in Kansas statute, and his third motion was to table the bill.

Sen. Marci Francisco (D-Lawrence) introduced four amendments, one of which would overturn our 2011 law that excludes elective abortion coverage in private health plans. The ACLU took this law to court (a law which other states have had on the books for decades), forcing Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt to defend it. As the trial neared, the ACLU dropped the suit.

Francisco also made a motion to expand abortion deductions and a motion to add domestic partner language to the bill; those amendments failed. Her tax-tweaking amendment succeeded.

Senate Minority leader, Anthony Hensley (D-Topeka), heartily endorsed every defeated motion.

The third abortion supporter to offer an amendment was freshman Sen. Pat Pettey (D-Kansas City). She wanted breast cancer and pre-term birth topics removed from the bill’s informed consent provisions.

KDHE (the state health department) has determined for 15 years that these topics are relevant to provide legally acceptable informed consent.

KDHE cites the Institute of Medicine and a 2009 international meta-analysis in their exposition of possible future pre-term birth risk.

As for breast cancer, KDHE has a modest section citing that there are studies for and against what is known as “the independent” risk factor of abortion. What is pre-eminent is the incontrovertible biological evidence that the risk of breast cancer is reduced with a full-term delivery. An already-pregnant woman deserves that information.

In fact, a national Planned Parenthood fact sheet (submitted by the Kansas City affiliate in opposition to HB 2253) actually reinforces this fact in their breast cancer section:

“reproductive factors have been associated with risk for the disease since the seventeenth century…it is known that having a full-term pregnancy early in a woman’s childbearing years is protective against breast cancer.”

Now compare Planned Parenthood’s statement above with the first 3 sentences in the KDHE abortion informed consent booklet, under breast cancer risk:

 Your chances of getting breast cancer are affected by your pregnancy history. If you have carried a pregnancy to term as a young woman, you may be less likely to get breast cancer in the future. However, your risk is not reduced if your pregnancy is ended by an abortion.

The language is nearly identical! Sen. Pettey’s amendment failed. The challengers sought headlines, not improvements for the bill. Kansans can be proud of this legislation.

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