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Gov. Brownbaack welcomes Steve Mosher to Kansas

Gov. Brownback greets Mosher

The Kansas Senate Health Committee held a hearing Monday on Senate Bill 141, an act to save our littlest children from violent gender discrimination through sex-selection abortion. A 2006 Zogby International Poll, surveying over thirty thousand, showed 86% public support for enacting such a ban.

The lead off testimony came from Steven Mosher, President of the Population Research Institute and an internationally recognized authority on demographics and sex-selection abortion.

“What we are concerned with here is more than job or pay discrimination,” said Mosher, “this is discrimination that kills.”

Sex selection is generally banned in Europe, he noted, but the bans on such abortions in India and China have not been as effective as they could be in the U. S. When asked about how the actual numbers here can be ascertained, Mosher responded that the law is a great teacher and even if reports are anecdotal, just one death is too much.

Kansans for Life’s testimony cited a history of journal articles and studies that show sex selection abortion was a concern within 2 years of Roe v. Wade.  We testified that the issue of “choosing” gender is aggravated by the growth in ‘noninvasive’ prenatal testing (using sampling of the mother’s blood or urine) that are directly marketed to parents.

Also noted to the committee was the 2008 National Academy of Science report analyzing “son preference” that found “evidence of sex selection, most likely at the prenatal stage” and likely to be “more widely practiced in the near future.”  An undercover video “sting” showing alleged sex-selection abortion being abetted at an abortion clinic was shown to the committee. (see Undercover videos)

No conferees spoke against the bill, although N.O.W. lobbyists were in the audience.The abortion lobby says “they are focused on other measures,” but the truth is they really are stuck messaging this issue.  Abortion labeled as gender discrimination undermines their argument that the so-called “reproductive rights” movement exists to prevent discrimination against women.

The language of SB 141 was part of the Pro-Life Protections Act of 2012 which passed the House 88-31, but died in the Senate.  This year, as a stand alone bill, it has 21 Senate co-sponsors.

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Sen. mary Pilcher-Cook

Sen.  Pilcher-Cook

An exciting proposal establishing an adult stem cell center at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC), was presented to a joint meeting of the Kansas Senate and House Health committees on Thursday and Friday.

Lawmakers heard from medical experts using adult stem cell (ASC) treatments, as well as patients and other experts in the field about the urgent need to establish a new center at KUMC that would conduct clinical research trials and co-ordinate education about this rapidly growing medical specialty.

Dr. David Prentice, Adjunct Professor of Molecular Genetics and an international expert on the stem cell topic, has testified several times to Kansas lawmakers on this developing field. He urged the creation of a hub for ASC treatments, information and medical networking. Prentice quoted recent science and medical journals 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.

Dr. Dana Winegarner, a Kansas City neurologist, although not on staff at KUMC, testified that no professional turf battles stand in the way. The problem is that busy practitioners cannot keep up with the rapidity of the stem cell developments; he said he has an app on his smart phone that notifies of breaking relevant medical data and that it registers over 60 hits a day. “During the time I leave for work and return at night, medicine has changed!”

Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn, Director of KUMC’s Cardiovascular Diseases Division and Research Institute, demonstrated how applications of stem cells regenerate damaged hearts and reviewed outcomes of national studies. Dawn said the list of diseases that can be cured with stem cells is ever-increasing  and thus there is a crying need for a center that can process and manufacture clinical grade stem cells as well as initiate clinical trials.

Patient Richard Waters, a participant in an adult stem cell program trial at KUMC testified that the stem cell heart treatment he received last year was not available in the United States when he had his earlier heart attacks. Testimony from Waters and videos of two other patients who’d undergone successful, remarkable medical treatment from non-embryonic stem cells fascinated the attendees in the packed room at the state Capitol.

Dr. Omar Aljitawi, part of KUMC’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Program, said that KUMC is involved in 2 major umbilical cord blood transplant trials, a treatment first done successfully in 1988. Kansas is home to the development of the  “Wharton’s Jelly” part of the umbilical cord, which offers much promise as a base material for multiplying cells for patient application. Aljitawi bemoaned the fact that so many sources of ASC were being discarded, and need to be developed and made available for a waiting populace.

Senate Health committee chair, Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) said a bill is being drafted to create a cutting edge ASC center at the KUMC campus in Kansas City, for which no model exists nationally–or globally.

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Senate VP Jeff King

Sen. Jeff King

28 of 40 Kansas Senators voted Wednesday to approve two measures allowing reform of the judicial nomination system. It would affect all the state’s highest justices and judges–those on the Kansas Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

The current system, “does not have the legitimacy for the voters of the state of Kansas that it needs,” according to the bill sponsor, new Senate Vice-president, Jeff King (R-Independence).

The first Senate bill, SCR 1601, allows the public to vote to change the Kansas Constitution method of selecting the state Supreme Court and needs 2/3 approval of both chambers to be put on the 2014 ballot. SCR 1601 would put the selection of the appellate court into the state Constitution.

SCR 1601 mirrors the House measure, HCR 5002, applying to selection for both courts, and which passed favorably out of the House Judiciary committee last week, following extensive testimony over three days.

The Senate also passed a second, companion bill SB 8, creating a seven-member commission that would review the caliber of the Governor’s nominee for use in Senate confirmation.

Kansans for Life is scoring these measures as pro-life; we have long supported judicial selection reform measures that improve transparency and public involvement.  In 2006, we scored as pro-life a vote supporting a more modest reform measure allowing Senate confirmation of state Supreme Court nominees. During Senate confirmation, the public can learn of the leanings and past rulings of the nominees, similar to the vetting that happens at the federal level for nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sen. majority leader Terry Bruce

Sen. Terry Bruce

The current method of filling each vacancy for the state’s Supreme and appellate courts is considered secretive and non-democratic. In private deliberations, the judicial nominating committee, composed of five lawyers and four non-lawyers, selects three names from which the governor must choose one. The reform would give the governor free reign for picking a nominee, which the Senate –in open session– would have to vote whether to confirm or not. In the latter case, the process starts anew.

The reform also eliminates the current nominating committee. New Senate Majority Leader, Terry Bruce (R-Hutchinson), described that committee as “distorted by special interest lawyers”.  Both Senators King and Bruce, who urged the reform measures, are themselves attorneys by profession; but many attorneys, including the Kansas Bar association, have long fought to keep the nominating committee.

More discussion of the Kansas courts’ pro-abortion bias and testimony about the nominating committee political bias will appear in a follow-up post.

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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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religious freedom (2)Good news! A second court ruling showed skepticism that the Obama administration intends to enact a meaningful “accommodation” of the conscience rights of non-profit groups battling the HHS insurance mandate.

A Washington, D.C. circuit Court of Appeals overturned lower courts and ruled Tuesday that the lawsuit of two plaintiffs– evangelical Wheaton College and Catholic Belmont Abbey College— will not be dismissed.

HHS has denied the colleges exemptions from the mandate that health insurance provide free abortion-causing drugs and sterilization. And although the Obama administration had previously announced plans to create a new rule, or accommodation, it has not yet taken the steps necessary to make that promise legally binding.

The Court of Appeals decided the colleges’ cases should stay alive while it scrutinizes whether the government will meet its promised deadlines. In fact, it ordered that HHS must appear in court every 60 days until its promised accommodation has become part of the official Obamacare “preventative services” regulatory regime!

Over 100 individuals, schools and businesses have sued the HHS mandate. Just last week, a New York district judge resisted the Obama attorneys’ claim that the grounds for these religious liberty lawsuits will soon disappear once the accommodation is made. District Judge Brian Cogan didn’t buy that logic; he allowed the Catholic Archdiocese of New York lawsuit to go forward, saying,

“There is no, ‘Trust us, changes are coming’ clause in the Constitution.”

Of course no serious person believes that any promised tweaking of the mandate can eliminate its essential undermining of religious freedom. The mandate flies in the face of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires that only a ‘compelling’ governmental interest has any potential to infringe on religious exercise, and then only if carried out in the least intrusive way.

The Obama administration attorneys have only a liberalizing-abortion agenda, and no true compelling interest, for forcing free coverage of morally offensive “preventive” services.  They have offered ridiculous justifications for not granting exemptions, including:

  1. a person loses religious liberty rights once they run a business;
  2. religion is limited to worship inside a building and serving only those who believe as you do.

KANSAS CONSCIENCE PROTECTIONS
Kansas lawmakers have secured important conscience protection for:

  • taxpayers;
  • private employers;
  • medical personnel and facilities.

In 2011, Kansas passed pro-active legislation forbidding the establishment of elective abortion coverage in any anticipated state health insurance “exchange’ (a kind of marketplace for policies). Eighteen other states have passed similar bans.

Also that year, Kansas lawmakers passed a measure to protect employers’ right to refuse to cover any abortions (other than those to save the mother’s life) in their company health plans. Under this law, employees can buy a special, separate “rider” policy for elective abortions. This law is similar to ones other states have had for decades which have been upheld in court. The Kansas law is in effect but the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has sued, and the matter is headed for trial next year.

Under the 2012 Kansas Healthcare Rights of Conscience Act, health professionals cannot be fired, and medical facilities cannot be sued, for not performing abortions, or for not providing referrals for them. Conscience decisions on sterilizations and abortion-causing drugs are also protected.

Kansas has established significant laws to protect life and conscience, but the push to normalize abortion and restrict religious liberty continues.

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Stan Hazlett

Stan Hazlett

The director of Kansas’ state attorney ethics division, Stan Hazlett, is facing serious charges of his own, basically that he was “dishonest,” “unfair,”and broke the rules governing discipline of attorneys.While similar charges against Hazlett are part of the Phill Kline defense (discussed below), scathing allegations against Hazlett were filed in a May 2012 legal brief (that fills a three-inch deep binder) by Alma attorney, Keen Umbehr. Umbehr says he has been victimized by Hazlett,

who pressed for disciplinary action against Umbehr without having received the required decision from a 3-person disciplinary review panel that there was “probable cause” that ethical violations were committed.

Umbehr was the subject of a complaint to Hazlett initiated by the director of the state department of women’ corrections. Umbehr had shown the temerity to expose the scandal of sex between guards and inmates, including drugs and a procured abortion.

The resulting explosive Topeka Capital Journal newspaper series on conditions inside the women’s prison ran in October 2009. It was written by reporter Tim Carpenter, who accompanied Umbehr when meeting with jailed clients. The scandal triggered federal investigations that continue today.

Umbehr was threatened with loss of his law license for not volunteering that Carpenter was a reporter. After two years, it was found that he had not violated any professional ethics.

Umbehr’s filing shows how Hazlett stonewalled verifying whether the ethics charges were being handled according to the rules. Umbehr alleges the initial required review panel never even convened and that Hazlett lied repeatedly about it. Umbehr’s action against Hazlett now proceeds to a panel of the state Supreme Court.

As relates to former AG Phill Kline’s protracted case, Kline’s attorney, Tom Condit issued a demand letter to Hazlett Nov, 21, for additional documentation on the working of Hazlett’s office in light of the derogatory comments tweeted by an appellate law clerk (see post here). Condit’s letter draws attention to numerous failings by Hazlett, in pursuing Kline:

There are seemingly infinite ironies between the many failings and omissions of your [Hazlett] office and …the standard of absolute perfection required of all of Mr. Kline’s acts and communications.”

Condit notes that— as in the Umbehr case— Hazlett failed to secure a written “probable cause” finding for Kline. When asked for the report, Hazlett asserted that review panel results were “oral.”  This is the same excuse Hazlett gave Umbehr, although the Rules clearly state that the panel must commit their findings to the record.

Also noteworthy in the Kline case, is that Hazlett’s own investigators did not find Kline guilty. And Hazlett ignored the “not guilty” findings of a special inquisition of Kline in 2007 and the ruling of Wichita Judge Owens on related matters.

So what compelled Hazlett to take the path he did with Kline?  The results of the legal complaint filed by attorney Umbehr may verify whether Stan Hazlett has been violating the very ethics he is in charge of enforcing.

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In 1997 Kansas enacted state-issued informed consent provisions for abortion, with a 24-hour phone hotline and printed informational booklets. Part of the  “Woman’s Right to Know” law required abortionists to report, not only the numbers of abortions performed, but also how many women they saw for an initial visit at which time informed consent printed state materials were presented.

The encouraging result is that from 1998 through 2011, the state health department received confirmation that 3,551 women did not proceed with abortions after their initial clinic contact.

To better educate pregnant women, as well as deter them from even entering abortion clinics, Kansans for Life shepherded the “Women’s Right to Know and See” law. Passed in 2009, the law gives women not only the option to see their child’s ultrasound taken inside the abortion clinic, but also

created a state health department-run website with real-time sonography of the developing unborn child.

At www.womansrighttoknow.org, a scientifically accurate description of prenatal development accompanies a breathtaking day-by-day view inside the womb.

A pregnant women considering abortion in Kansas, whether due to personal ambivalence or coercion, no longer has to actually contact the abortion business or wait for printed materials to arrive in the mailbox. Now, thanks to this state website, the pregnant woman has direct, private access to gaze at ultrasounds of children the same age as her unborn child… without time limits. Website access to informed consent warnings and prenatal ultrasound allows her to contemplate –at her own pace –the real person already living inside her, without clinic pressure or misinformation.

We asked the Kansas health department about website traffic. They answered that in the 26 months from May 2010 through June 2012, the right-to-know website has been phenomenally busy, with 152,173 ‘hits’! 

Logically some of these hits were repeat visits and some were from students or other non-pregnant interested individuals.  But undoubtedly, the right-to-know website has contributed to the continuing decrease in Kansas abortions.

In 2008 (before the website), 10,642 pregnant women entered Kansas abortion clinics, in 2009, 9,701 did so, in 2010, 8,615, and in 2011, 8,033. Thus, nearly 2,700 women never stepped inside a Kansas abortion business, due to their access to a state informed consent website!

So, while we are pleased that a few hundred women each year do reject abortion upon reflection AFTER entering Kansas clinics, the number choosing life has greatly increased with the online website.

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