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Gov. Brownback signs pro-life Disclose Act

Today, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed Senate Bill 83, the DISCLOSE ACT, into law. He told the assembled audience,

“The dignity of life and the inherent right to life is shared by all people, both born and unborn. The complexities surrounding countless crisis pregnancies are many and varied. Too often women are led to believe that abortion is their only option when it clearly, clearly is not. Regardless of a woman’s ultimate decision regarding abortion, she has a right to know about the provider and their medical qualifications.

The Disclose Act is an important update to the state’s 1997 Woman’s Right to Know Act that dictates basic professional information required on abortion informed consent documents. It passed the Senate 25-15 and the House 84-38. The bill had many sponsors in both chambers, and the strong support of the three practicing physicians who are state reps.

The Disclose Act is a response to the fact Kansas abortion clinics minimize and undermine state-required information they find unfavorable to the abortion sale.

During debate about SB 83, pro-life Senators committed their support of SB 83 into the formal record:

“Before this legislation in Kansas, there was no way for women to know when a clinic had a 100% turnover of their staff in 3 years, or about the recent hire of a 76-year-old neurologist that would give abortions but has not had ob-gyn training, or many other various issues that could endanger their health…. Because of the nature of abortion, however, which causes women to want privacy for a variety of reasons, women need ready access to this information to make the best decisions for their care.”

Specifically, SB 83 requires that professional data for each abortionist be listed on the consent form, including:

  • any negative disciplinary actions from the State Healing Arts Board,
  • state of residency,
  • year medical degree attained,
  • when employment at this clinic began,
  • status of local hospital privileges,
  • malpractice insurance.

Abortions in Kansas are mostly obtained with only an email or phone contact; no medical referral or office visit is required. 65% of abortions in Kansas are being obtained for the first time, meaning those women have no concept of the procedure or knowledge of the skill of the practitioners.

Moreover, in Kansas, women don’t “choose” an abortionist; they are assigned one. In fact, contrary to legislative intent, women are instructed to download the clinic form at home and sign “consent” to a list of all potential abortionists on staff.

CLINICS BURY DISFAVORED INFO
Kansas abortion clinics all design their online consent forms with the sections of state-required data that they deem unfavorable formatted in reduced font size and hard-to-read ink color. This is in addition to negative comments about the validity of the required information.

At least one clinic alters the legal wording of a state-required live link to the state Health Department and buries it amidst pages of clinic information instead of placing it on the clinic website home page!

The Media Research Center reported yesterday that the Disclose Act,

“will give women more information on the doctors about to perform their abortion procedures…but the new regulation has inspired a leftist freak-out…obsessed with the bill’s font size requirement. It makes total sense that the state [legislature] would require a specific font size in order to prevent providers from trying to circumvent the law by using minute, unreadable lettering. If the purpose of the bill is to ensure women are able to make an informed decision, it needs to make sure the women are actually informed (i.e. they can read the information they are given).”

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Sen. Rob Olson

The Kansas legislature is sending Gov. Sam Brownback another first-in-the-nation pro-life bill.

This morning the state Senate approved, 25-15, Senate sub SB 83, an update to the 1997 Woman’s Right to Know statute, that the House passed Friday 84-38.

“I think this is a bill that will help women make the right choice and an informed decision,” said Sen. Rob Olson (R-Olathe), who carried the bill today.

Rep. Susan Humphries

The Disclose Act was introduced this session in both chambers with numerous pro-life co-sponsors, including the three practicing physicians who are state representatives. The bill carrier in the House was Rep. Susan Humphries (R-Wichita).

The Disclose Act requires abortion businesses to provide –in an easily readable typeface –minimum professional information about each abortionist listed on clinics’ online informed consent documents.

Kansas abortion clinics cannot defend not providing basic data about the pool of practitioners they list on the informed consent documents they all make available online. State law requires this consent document as the gateway form that must be downloaded and time-stamped at least 24 hours prior to the abortion.

Currently if a woman uses the clinic’s form, she doesn’t “choose” the abortionist; she is assigned one. Nor can she evaluate if that practitioner is acceptable to her. She has no idea of the abortionist’s training, age, and professional reliability. This information stranglehold is not faced in any other elective procedure.

The Disclose Act requires these physician minimum topics:

  • Kansas residency,
  • medical degree year,
  • years employed at that abortion location,
  • whether hospital privileges are in effect,
  • malpractice coverage,
  • disciplinary actions completed by the State Board of Healing Arts (which regulates physicians).

Abortion clinics can very easily add this information in a one-time data entry to their online admission forms. Abortion clinics unjustifiably defend withholding this information–calling it harassment–the very words some abortion supporting Senators used today in debate.

Sen. Ty Masterson

SENATE DEBATE
A hostile motion by Sen. Dinah Sykes (R- Lenexa) to send the bill back to committee– to extend the disclosures to other medical practitioners– failed 16-23.

Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) chastised opponents for veiling their opposition to the Disclose Act under the complaint that abortion was being treated differently. “Abortion is different because there is a third person involved in the procedure [the unborn baby].”

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth) added, “The point is that in this procedure, the intended result is a dead human being.” He hammered at the claims from senators not to know this difference, saying this “must be explained not [due] to ignorance but to insincerity, deceit and self-delusion; and that is offensive.”

Sen. Steve Fitzgerald

Sen. Fitzgerald continued, charging that the actual intent of opponents “cloaked in ‘concern’ [about other medical procedures]” was

“to deny women important, relevant information in a convenient format at the appropriate time.”

Rebutting claims that the state Healing Arts Board makes providing disclosure to women unneeded, Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook (R-Shawnee) reminded that the Board does not act as a consumer protection agency, and “it is [our] legislative duty to protect, not point to another agency.”

Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook

Sen. Pilcher-Cook also read some excerpts from the National Abortion Federation convention which indicated the coarseness of abortionists. “The nature of abortion is ugly and it’s evil because it kills a human being,” she said.

The comment from one senator that too much time had been spent on this bill when budget issues remained, sparked this rebuttal from Sen. Gene Sullentrop (R-Wichita): “I don’t think money is more important than life…we should be making law about this and pass it.”

ABORTION VIA EMAIL
The Disclose Act is a recognition that–unlike decades ago when the Woman’s Right to Know Act became law–the great majority of abortions in Kansas are currently secured with a phone call or internet contact, not an office visit or medical referral.

Sen. Gene Suellentrop

Under state law enacted in 2013, each abortion clinic’s home page must include a live weblink to the state website for helpful “Woman’s Right to Know” information. However, proponents of the Disclose Act charge that abortion businesses have

  • disobeyed the location for that mandate or
  • printed it as to be barely-readable in tiny grey type on a tinted background.

That is the reason for requiring baseline data about abortionists be printed in black ink, 12 pt. size, on white paper.

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Votes in both chambers are imminent for the Disclose Act– an update of the 1997 Kansas “Woman’s Right to Know Act.”

The Disclose Act addresses the reality that 65% of Kansas abortions are “first-time” events, with the great majority of women knowing NOTHING about the procedure or the abortionist—much less his/her training, skill, or access to hospital facilities for a mishap.

Women are unaware of the following situations in Kansas:

  1. One clinic has had 100% turnover of their abortionist staff in 3 years; their current Kansas-resident practitioner agreed not to practice ob/gyn, under a State Board of Healing Arts disciplinary action.
  2. One clinic has recently hired a 76-year-old neurologist without ob/gyn formal training to do abortions.
  3. One clinic requires an overnight hotel visit for “2-day abortion procedures” and falsely labels the stay as “required under Kansas law.”

Kansans for Life has been told that, notwithstanding the state Board of Healing Arts’ “appreciating” our concerns for women, they will take no action for the above situations.

Yet abortion attorney Bob Eye told House and Senate committees this year that the Board insures abortionists meet rigorous standards and women therefore need not be told any professional data about them!

ABORTIONS ARRANGED ONLINE
All Kansas abortion businesses have individualized “informed consent” documents required to be downloaded 24 hours prior to the woman’s trip to the abortion clinic. The great majority of women obtaining Kansas abortions will be in the facility only on the day of the abortion, and nearly half of them are residents of another state.

The current abortion online consent documents fail to fully meet what the legislature has decreed for informed consent; instead, the clinics are:

  • using various formatting and fonts to downplay important state-required information and
  • undermining the requirement that each woman is giving consent to ONE specific practitioner –not a list of possibles.

KFL’s priority, the Disclose Act , (now renumbered as S sub SB 83) will help remedy these deficiencies; abortion business compliance will merely require a few minutes of one-time data entry. (see post here)

The Disclose Act will require

  1. the Kansas informed consent provisions be printed out in 12pt. black ink, Times Roman font, which is nationally recognized for readability, and
  2. seven “bullet points” of information be given for each listed abortionist.

Kansas “Voices for Choice” current abortion lobbying materials characterize the Disclose Act as “intended to undermine the confidence” in the abortionists whom the women can “get to know…when they meet with him/her 30 minutes before the abortion.”

Are they serious? (Pause for eye-rolling.)

Women contemplating elective abortion assume that Kansas regulators protect them from disqualified and/or untrained abortionists. Since that isn’t the case, women deserve passage of the Disclose Act.

On Thursday afternoon, the Disclose Act became part of a “conference committee report” process headed for votes in both chambers over the next few days.

ACTION ITEM: Contact your State Rep and Senator TODAY to urge passage of the Disclose Act, S sub SB 83. (Use this link if you don’t remember who your legislators are.)

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Sheryl Crosier and Gov. Brownback share a spontaneous hug after the official signing of Simon’s Law.

Appreciative parents, legislators and pro-life /pro-family advocates surrounded Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback this morning as he formally signed Simon’s Law.

Simon’s Law passed the Kansas Senate 29-9 on March 16 and the House by 121-3 on March 31. The victory culminated a grassroots campaign among families whose children with chromosomal disorders were denied life-saving care.

Simon’s Law is a very significant pro-life measure in the area of selectively “rationed” care and medical discrimination against children with life-limiting diagnoses. Simon’s Law:

  • validates both the medical advisory role and parental rights;
  • ends “secret” DNRs based on “quality of life” judgments;
  • buttresses dignity for children with disabilities;
  • exposes policies denying life-saving care; and
  • combats erosion of the Sanctity of Life ethic in our culture.

As catalogued in an award-winning 2014 short documentary, “Labeled,” a frightening number of children with chromosomal disorders are denied life-saving medical treatment.

Trisomy 18, Trisomy 13, and related genetic disorders have been routinely labeled “lethal” and “incompatible with life.” As a result, children with these conditions almost automatically receive DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders without parental consent.

That was the experience of Sheryl and Scott Crosier, who lost their infant son, Simon, six years ago.

Kansas pro-life legislators surround the Crosier family (left) as Gov. Brownback officially signs Simon’s Law with Frank & Ann Barnes at far right.

Simon had a diagnosis of Trisomy 18. At age three months, he had what proved to be a fatal apnea attack in the hospital.  While his parents held him, they waited in numbing shock as no emergency aid came to the rescue.

Later, Sheryl and Scott found that a DNR order was in Simon’s chart, which neither parent knew about nor approved.

After Simon’s death, Sheryl and Scott reviewed his chart and discovered Simon had only been given “comfort feeds” which are not sufficient for growth and development. He had also been given medications incompatible with his apnea. These revelations fueled their anger and their resolve to do something.

A LAW TO ALERT PARENTS
The Crosiers believed legislation was needed to

  1. stop the issuance of unilaterally-issued DNRs, and
  2. expose the practice of hospital futile care policies dictating scenarios in which life-saving treatment is withheld or withdrawn.

They began in Missouri in 2014, but certain medical interests were opposed and the measure has not yet been able to secure committee passage.

Kansans for Life  took up the original bill last year, and redrafted it with aid from NRLC’s Robert Powell Department for Medical Ethics. After an impressive win in the Kansas Senate, there was insufficient time for action in the House in the 2016 legislative session.

This year, the bill was refiled amid delicate negotiations between Kansans for Life  and hospital staff and hospital ethicists. The result was a more narrowly focused bill that was able to bridge entrenched medical objections.

The Crosiers approved the revisions and came to testify at the Statehouse with 12-year-old son Sean. The sadness and sense of betrayal of Simon’s death is still very real for them. Sean testified about how his excitement at being a “big brother” tuned into “pain and heartache” that still endures.

Parents of Trisomy kids rejoice in the signing of Simon’s Law

NATIONAL IMPACT
Frank and Ann Barnes from North Carolina also traveled to Topeka to celebrate the bill signing today. Their daughter Megan, was profiled last year in the NRLC News Today

Yes, Megan had limitations, but her mother described her as “content” and “knew she was loved.” At age nineteen, Megan was hospitalized for virus-caused dehydration, in a pediatric intensive care unit at a major teaching hospital. She was never to return home.

Due to her Trisomy 18 condition, a DNR had been verbally ordered into her chart by an “attending” physician without parental notice or consent. Megan was dead four days later.

Ann and Frank are actively involved with S.O.F.T., a nationwide family support group for Trisomy 13, Trisomy18, and related disorders. At today’s signing and press conference, Gov. Brownback invited them to talk about their daughter and the impact of her death.

As of July 1, Simon‘s Law in Kansas will mandate:

  1. 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 the order– or refuse it orally or in writing. Court access for disputes is delineated and the child remains safe during resolution.
  2. Parents and prospective patients of any age have the right to request and 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.

See KFL Simon’s Law video here and more on the KFL youtube channel.

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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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