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Archive for March, 2017

Crosier family before Simon’s death

Kansans for Life’s top priority pro-life bill, Simon’s Law, has been sent to a receptive Gov. Sam Brownback for his signature.

Kudos goes to the tireless efforts of the Scott and Sheryl Crosier family for launching the grassroots campaign, in their infant son’s name, to enact a law which will save lives and solidify parental rights.

In final action Thursday, the Kansas House voted 121-3 in favor of Sub SB 85, Simon’s Law. The measure had already been approved 29-9 by the Senate two weeks ago, and requires:

  • Parents receive both written and verbal notification before a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) is placed in a child’s medical file. Parents can then allow or refuse the order.
  • Parents and patients of any age, upon request, have the right to receive hospital policies concerning “denial of life-saving care” (sometimes referred to as medical futility policies). There is no mandate that hospitals have such policies.

Rep. John Whitmer (R-Wichita) carried Simon’s Law on the House floor with precision and in a heartfelt manner.  He recapped that Simon Crosier was a medically-fragile infant with Trisomy 18 whose death was caused by denial of resuscitation because a DNR was placed in his medical file –without his parents’ knowledge or consent.

Rep. Brim

Rep. Shelee Brim (R-Shawnee) was first up to speak in support of Sub SB 85 during House debate Wednesday. She referenced a close friend who had been urged to abort a child due to a “dire” diagnosis of anencephaly and spina bifida. Her friend refused and that ‘child’ is now twenty. In remarks committed to the House Journal, Rep. Brim said,

Little blessings like Simon may be on Earth for a matter of minutes, hours, or years. These vulnerable babies are not yet able to speak for themselves and I feel that their parents are their voices– NOT the doctors. We may not know the reason for the brevity of a baby’s life, but there is a reason. Simon’s life taught an important lesson and my hope is that we learn from this.”

Rep Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita), chairman of the House Health and Human Services Committee, commended the efforts to negotiate the final language with medical and disability experts and produce what is “not only a good bill, but a great one.”

Special thanks goes out to Representatives Kevin Jones (R-Wellsville) [see video] and Randy Powell (R-Olathe) [see video] who were the chief sponsors of the House bill, joining with 28 co-sponsors, including three practicing physicians. (See more Simon’s Law support videos here.)

Rep. Jacobs

Rep. Trevor Jacobs (R- Fort Scott) explained his vote in support of Simon’s Law,

I sincerely believe that one of government’s most essential and valuable responsibilities is to protect the life of its weakest and most vulnerable citizens, and that is the life of a child. In the Hebrew language, “Simon” means “to listen or to hear.” I have heard the cry for help and for justice [and] stand for the sanctity of life.”

Kansas stands alongside the Crosier family and other families who testified about victimization by medical discrimination and unilateral DNR placements. We hope other states are now encouraged to enact Simon’s Law.

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For Kansas pro-lifers, being at the state capital today was better than a double-header at Royals stadium: two priority pro-life bills were passed on provisional votes.

First, the House gave unanimous approval to Simon’s Law, which had already passed the Senate, 29-9-2, and is gliding toward Gov. Sam Brownback’s signature.

State reps then turned to debate and provisionally passed the Disclose Act, HB 2319, by a vote of 85-38-2. An identical version of the Disclose Act (SB 98) has awaited Senate floor action for a month.

Rep. Susan Humphries

Rep. Susan Humphries (R-Wichita) expertly explained that informed consent for abortion is controlled by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1992 Casey ruling. Kansas’ response was enacting the  1997 informed consent statutes, called the Woman’s Right to Know Act.

The Disclose Act is a very narrowly tailored update that advances “transparency” in decision-making for non-emergency, elective abortions.

Since the great majority of abortions in Kansas are now transacted with a single phone call or email, the Disclose Act requires seven basic “bullet points” of information about each abortionist be listed on the consent form.

Kansas abortion businesses are playing fast and loose with their online forms as far as “fine print.” Humphries stated the context of this bill is the “poor performance” of Kansas clinics when implementing simple state mandates, as when they publish a required link to the Kansas Health Department–but do so in reduced type in light grey ink.

OPPONENTS WEAK
Two hostile amendments by perennial abortion supporters were offered and failed. The first, by Rep. John Wilson (D-Lawrence) wanted to remove the typeface, ink and background requirement, which the clinics have brought on themselves by their past bad acts. The amendment failed on voice vote.

The second amendment, by Rep. Annie Kuether (D-Topeka), claimed that all state-licensed physicians should also have these disclosures on various surgery consent forms. She ignored the reality that with abortion there is almost never any existing patient/physician relationship.

Abortion is not just “another medical procedure” like knee surgery or skin biopsy, as Rep. Kuether portrayed.

Rep. Eric Smith

Rep. Eric Smith (R-Burlington) pointed out that what abortion supporters try to gloss over is that a second life, the baby, is involved in each abortion.

The Kuether amendment failed 41-84.

Supporting the pro-abortion amendment were five Republicans [Stephanie Clayton (Overland Park), Linda Gallagher (Lenexa) Melissa Rooker (Fairway) Tom Sloan (Lawrence), Susie Swanson (Clay Center)] and all Democrats except four.

The four Democrats who voted pro-life were: John Alcala (Topeka), Henry Helgerson (Eastborough), Adam Lusker (Frontenac), and Vic Miller (Topeka).

During debate, assistance for defense of the Disclose Act came from Shelee Brim (R-Shawnee), Pete DeGraaf (R-Mulvane), John Eplee, M.D. (R-Atchison), Greg Lakin, D.O. (R-Wichita), Les Osterman (R-Wichita), Abraham Rafie, M.D. (R-Overland Park), Scott Schwab (R-Olathe), and Chuck Weber (R-Wichita).

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Simon Crosier & parents

The weather outside in the capital city of Kansas today was dreary and rainy, but a raft of sunshine could be felt under the capitol dome this morning when the Kansas House passed Simon’s Law with a unanimous voice vote.

Tomorrow,  in “final action,” the individualized vote tally will be recorded. Simon’s Law, Sub SB 85, already passed the Senate 29-9-2 March 16, and it will be heading for signing to a receptive Gov. Sam Brownback.

The importance of this measure for restoring dignity to, and protection for, medically marginalized infants and children should not be understated.

Testimonies in support of Simon’s Law came from numerous families whose children were treated disrespectfully and even denied life-sustaining care due to being “labeled” as “incompatible with life.”

The bill was named for Simon Crosier, whose parents have been conducting a grass roots campaign against the imposition of DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders without parental consent. His story was part of the introductory remarks given by the bill-carrier of Sub SB 85, Rep. John Whitmer (R-Wichita).

Rep. Whitmer

“Simon Crosier was born on September 7, 2010. On his 3rd day of life he was diagnosed with full Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder, and his life –and sadly the quality of his medical care and treatment– changed dramatically after that diagnosis. You see, many doctors declare Trisomy 18 as “incompatible with life,” despite evidence of the contrary and of course those who survive for months, years and even decades.

Simon drew his last strained breath at 10:45am on December 3rd, 2010. Imagine watching your child take his last breaths, his oxygen saturation levels plummeting and the medical professionals doing nothing to intervene. It wasn’t until AFTER Simon’s death that his parents discovered there was a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order in his medical file which explains why the medical professionals stood around and did nothing.

His parents did not know about, nor did they consent or even discuss this with ANY of the medical personnel prior to the execution of that DNR order. Passage of Senate bill 85 would prevent any other family from having to go through what the Crosier family has had to endure.

Specifically, Senate bill 85 addresses: instituting DNRs and similar physician’s orders; petitions to enjoin; resolution of parental disagreements; required disclosures of policies by medical facilities and physicians; and existing law concerning emergency health care. Simon’s Law goes a long way toward ensuring that medically fragile children are not discriminated against because of a diagnosis.”

Kansans for Life congratulates the expert presentation and management of debate by Rep. Whitmer and was edified at the variety of legislators speaking in defense of this bill. More tomorrow.

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The governors and attorneys general of 22 states (including Kansas) have joined together to file an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to support Alabama’s ban on dismemberment abortions.

A temporary restraining order against Alabama’s Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act was issued in July 2016, one year after Kansas’ identical ban also was blocked, although the Kansas challenge is taking place in state, not federal, court.

Last Friday, the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals received the joint “amicus” brief organized by Louisiana’s Attorney General. Included are six states which have passed this ban [Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia] and sixteen which have not [Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin].

Gov. Sam Brownback signs ‘first-in-nation” ban on
dismemberment abortion

This filing reminds that –as noted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2007 Gonzales ruling upholding the federal ban on partial-birth abortions– states have the right to pass abortion restrictions that (1) protect and foster respect for the unborn, and (2) regulate the medical profession as to judgment and ethics. Moreover, the amicus continues,

“the abortion method involved in this case is an exceptionally gruesome one, potentially even more so than the ‘partial-birth’ procedure at issue in Gonzales.”

ABORTION METHOD MISREPRESENTED
One method of abortion after the first trimester is induced labor abortions, done mostly in hospital settings. The child is prematurely delivered and dies.

Most other abortions obtained at that gestation are done surgically by “D&E,” in which the birth canal is dilated and the unborn child extracted.

The abortion industry defense of dismemberment abortions has been the claim that “D&E” is safe and used for 95% of second trimester abortions.

However, all D&E abortions are not being banned under the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act, model legislation supported by NRLC and first enacted in Kansas.

Dismemberment abortions of still-living unborn children are a subset of D&E method

By design, this law bans only one specific method used upon a still-alive unborn baby. The law is defined as the tearing apart of an unborn child while still alive in the mother; a child who, in the words of U.S, Justice Anthony Kennedy, “dies just as a human adult or child would: It bleeds to death as it is torn limb from limb.” [Stenberg v. Carhart, dissent, 530 U.S. 914, 958-959]

To explain defending a law “requiring fetal demise before dismemberment,” the states authoring this brief insist they

do not intend to sanction abortion generally. They also regret being placed in the incongruous position as advocating for fetal death as a humane alternative to a procedure that should have no place in civilized society.”

ABORTIONISTS NOT FREE TO CHOOSE
States like Kansas that have enacted the dismemberment ban, have heard abortionists rely on the claim that because D&E abortions are “the most common,” that the state dare not ban them. But the state is not banning all D&E abortions, as noted above, a distinction that most media accounts resolutely miss. The multi-state amicus brief notes,

Kansas A.G. Derek Schmidt

“Even when some abortion providers consider a forbidden procedure to be medically preferable, the State’s reasonable resolution of the tradeoffs prevails. Abortion providers instead must work to find abortion methods that are more consistent with respect for life.”

Of course, the ultimate goal is for the Roe regime, and abortions, to end.

In the interim, it is promising that Kansas has emboldened 21 other states in supporting the federal appeal of the block on Alabama’s Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. According to the amicus,

“By limiting the use of particularly ‘brutal’ abortion procedures, States further respect for life, both in society at large and in the medical profession in particular. They also protect women from the deep grief many of them are likely to feel if and when they later discover exactly how their unborn children were killed.

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Justice Stegall

“Kansas’ highest court appeared receptive Thursday to declaring for the first time that the state constitution recognizes abortion rights,”  wrote the Associated Press’s John Hanna Thursday.

Indeed, the questions from the majority of Kansas Supreme Court Justices hearing oral arguments in the most important pro-life case in Kansas history, seemed focused on how—not whether– an abortion right will be framed to support a lower court injunction on dismemberment abortions.

Only one Justice, Caleb Stegall, repeatedly probed the problems of the Court “discovering” new abortion protection that, in effect, gives constitutional rights to some groups and not others (the unborn).

SB 95, which Kansas enacted in 2015, is titled the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. The measure prohibits abortions in which the fully-formed unborn child is torn apart with sharp metal tools, bit by bit, while still alive, inside her mother.

Unfortunately, the justices, the media, and those of us in the audience, never heard any description of an actual dismemberment abortion yesterday.

Instead, according to Janet Crepps, an abortion attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), women are the victims under SB 95. She told the justices that second-trimester non-dismemberment abortion methods were “experimental” and “painful” for women and an affront to their “privacy, autonomy, dignity and bodily integrity.”

Abortion atty,
Janet Crepps

And she said that with a straight face.

Solicitor General Stephen McAllister argued that abortion supporters want the Kansas Supreme Court to engage in a brand of judicial activism that ignored the text of the state’s constitution and the history of pro-life laws enacted in Kansas.

“If the people of Kansas want to create a constitutional right to abortion, they have a ready mechanism for doing so — the constitutional amendment process. Kansans have not been shy about utilizing it,” he explained.

CRR’s Crepps urged the justices to declare a “fundamental” right to abortion even broader than that created by Roe v. Wade, based on a “liberty” interest which has “evolved” during the nation’s “march to progress.”

She clearly aimed to undermine the “compelling” state interests that justify abortion restrictions and that are currently honored by the U.S. Supreme Court. These interests, cited in the 2007 Gonzales ruling upholding a ban on partial-birth abortions, include:

  1. That the State may use its regulatory power to bar certain procedures and substitute others, all in furtherance of its legitimate interests in regulating the medical profession.
  2. That the government may use its voice and its regulatory authority to show its profound respect for the life within the woman.

When questioned when the unborn merited constitutional rights, Crepps replied that those rights “attached” at birth.

At birth. That did not make its way into the Associated Press story, nor any other story in the Kansas media.

Abortion up until birth is an extreme position that very, very few Americans agree with.

A long line of discussion ensued on how that position can be reconciled with Kansas laws, including the fetal homicide statute [Alexa’s Law] allowing for prosecution of crimes resulting in the murder of unborn babies. Justice Stegall asked Crepps:

“How can we convict somebody of murder of an entity that has no inalienable rights, has no right to life? How can that be consistent? How can the state do that?”

Two of the justices seemed more concerned that without a state abortion “right,” women “would be forced to give birth” and pregnant women could “lose their lives.”

Lost in the discussion is the fact that abortion regulations in Kansas have always allowed “life of the mother” exceptions.

rally dismemberment sign

2015 Rally for Life urges ban on dismemberment abortions

The painful and barbaric nature of dismemberment abortion –violence that, under Kansas law, is not tolerated for pets and livestock in Kansas—was ignored.

Mc Allister warned the justices that the case before them does not require the drastic judicial activism that Crepps promotes, and that was exhibited in Roe v Wade, causing “more than four decades of havoc.

He closed his remarks with a quote from Justice Bryon White’s dissent in Roe: “As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today, but, in my view, its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.”

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Sen. LaTurner

Sen. Pilcher-Cook

Last night, the Kansas Senate approved Simon’s Law, 29-11, despite a last-minute hostile amendment from Sen. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills).

All but three Republicans voted in favor of this Kansans for Life-priority bill while eight of nine Democrats voted in opposition.

Simon’s Law insures that parents are the decision-makers when it comes to Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders for their critically ill children.

Sen. Jacob LaTurner (R-Pittsburg) carried the bill on the Senate floor, and opposed the Bollier amendment as undermining the key purpose of the bill.

Baby Simon

Simon’s Law was introduced last year and passed the Senate but wasn’t heard in the House before time ran out on the session. It is named in honor of infant Simon Crosier, whose life ended when he was denied resuscitation in a hospital, after a DNR was put on his chart without the knowledge or consent of his parents.

Parents have been uniformly shocked and disturbed to discover that DNRs could be assigned to their children without their consent. In a number of cases, families testified that their children were treated as “not worthy of life” due to chromosomal disorders. Simon had Trisomy 18.

During Thursday evening’s Senate floor debate, pro-life champion Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook brought up the issue of medical discrimination. She cited a book by former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum and his wife, Karen.

In “Bella’s Gift: How One Little Girl Transformed Our Family and Inspired a Nation,” the Santorums chronicle medical discrimination against their daughter, Bella, who, like Simon, has Trisomy 18. Sen. Santorum recounts how Bella had to be hospitalized repeatedly and for six years, medical personnel continually advised the Santorums to let her die.

Sen. Pilcher Cook warned that medical discrimination exists, and cited last year’s study in which 25-76% of responding pediatricians said they were comfortable issuing DNRs unilaterally. That is the situation Simon’s Law is meant to end.

Vocal support for parental rights during the debate on Simon’s Law also came from pro-life Senators Rob Olson (R-Olathe), Dennis Pyle (R-Hiawatha), and Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth).

Sen. Pyle

Sen. Fitzgerald

This year, Kansans for Life collaborated with medical and disability experts to produce a slightly amended version of Simon’s Law, which was commended during floor debate.

Substitute for SB 85 requires that parents be informed orally and in writing, before an order for a DNR can be placed in the medical chart of an unemancipated minor.

The delivery of that information must be recorded on the chart. Parents can allow that order to proceed or refuse it.

During conflict resolution, the child’s life must be preserved. This provision was emphasized by Sen. LaTurner as particularly important.

Sub SB 85 also requires that hospitals and medical facilities with written “futility” policies about when life-sustaining care will be denied, must disclose them to patients (or prospective patients) upon request.

Simon’s Law will have a hearing in the House Federal & State Affairs committee on Tuesday. In the House, Simon’s Law has the sponsorship of 30 State Reps, including three practicing physicians.

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Kansas Supreme Court

The Kansas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday morning in the most important pro-life issue ever to be decided in state history: whether a previously unknown  “fundamental” right to abortion is part of the 1859 state Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

This momentous case began in June of 2015, when abortion interests sued SB 95, the newly-enacted Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. This first-in-the nation ban—which other states have enacted and others are now seeking to pass—would prohibit the barbaric method of tearing apart fully-formed unborn children, piece by piece, while they are still alive inside their mother.

Shawnee District Court Judge Larry Hendricks issued a temporary injunction against the measure. He concluded that abortion interests would eventually prevail when a state right to abortion was officially acknowledged. A split decision of the Kansas Court of Appeals on the matter last January left Hendricks’ injunction in place.

Solicitor General Stephen McAllister will argue the case for the KS A.G.

The legal team for the Kansas Attorney General, Derek Schmidt, has rigorously defended SB 95 as an authentic exercise of the state’s regulatory powers. They have repeatedly argued that any idea that Kansas actually has enshrined a right to abortion “is a fantasy.”

KFL FRIEND OF THE COURT BRIEF
As it had for the first appeal of SB 95, Kansans for Life filed an “amicus curiae” (friend of the court) brief, buttressing the arguments of the Attorney General.

The KFL amicus asks that the Kansas Supreme Court reverse the injunction issued by Judge Hendricks and “declare that no right to abortion can be implied or created based on the text, history, and jurisprudence of this state.” The amicus points out:

  1. The Hendricks’ ruling is in direct conflict with the primacy of place given to the right to life in the Kansas Bill of Rights, which declares, “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
  2. The litigation against SB 95 thus far has treated the case as if no application of the ban is constitutional (called a facial challenge) when in fact, the abortionists challenging the ban have presented documentation that undermines that claim.
  3. The same logic that upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban (in the 2007  U.S. Supreme Court’s Gonzales ruling) will also uphold a ban on the equally horrific shredding of still-alive unborn children.
  4. Senate Bill 95 is based on the simple proposition that causing gratuitous pain to other human beings is fundamentally wrong— the foundation of the Kansas statutory prohibition of torture and enhanced penalties for crimes involving torture.

In its conclusion, the KFL brief advises the Kansas Supreme Court that:

“There simply is no basis in the Kansas Bill of Rights for a ruling that requires the state to tolerate live dismemberment abortion – a ruling that affords unborn children less protection than afforded by state statute to the livestock in this state.”

Many pro-lifers are praying that the justices will be positively affected in this hearing tomorrow. The hearing will be live streamed here.

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