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Archive for the ‘Kansas legislators’ Category

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 Democrat State Rep. John Wilson (left) expressed regret to MSCTC conferees Dr. David Prentice and Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn for not voting with the majority in 2013 to create the successful stem cell center.

Once in a blue moon, a lawmaker publicly admits he regrets how he voted. Those of us present at Tuesday’s hearing in the Kansas House Health & Human Services committee witnessed such a concession.

The focus of the hearing was the status report on the Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (MSCTC), given primarily by Board advisor, Dr. David Prentice and the Director, Dr. Buddhadeb Dawn. The room was packed and the presentation was positively uplifting.

Gov. Sam Brownback, along with the Kansas Legislature, had approved the formation of the MSCTC in 2013 to be housed at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. The Center is designed to serve as a regional hub of stem cell therapy, research, and education as well as an engine for increased processing of ethically-derived, “adult” stem cells (ASCs) for patient use.

There are numerous kinds of ASCs derived from different human tissues (see graphic). The point is that no ASCs require the destruction of human embryos.

In 2013, those paying careful attention to the stem cell issue realized the overblown expectations about the usefulness of stem cells derived from human embryos. Yet state Rep. John Wilson (D-Lawrence) was still unconvinced of the need to fund a patient-centered medical center using only non-embryonic stem cells. He voted against the measure, although the MSCTC passed.

On Tuesday, during the Q&A period, Wilson congratulated the Center for its success and acknowledged that he regretted voting against its creation. KFL later thanked Wilson for his remarks and joined him in his enthusiasm for the Center.

ADULT STEM CELL PROJECTS
Dr. Prentice, a native Kansan and frequent expert testifying on bioethical issues at the Kansas Statehouse, described ASC therapies as the “gold standard” in regenerative medicine, with over 1.5 million people having been treated to date, world-wide.

His presentation examined the real patients who are benefitting from the current therapies offered at the MSCTC, such as 300 patients annually receiving stem cells in collaboration with the KU Cancer Center.

Prentice detailed some specific projects already underway, some in pre-clinical research phase, and others in planning stages. They include numerous new and innovative uses for ASCs targeting the brain, heart, spinal cord, liver, and joints.

Of particular interest is the groundbreaking direction MSCTC is taking on “graft-versus-host” disease, which can be a serious complication for some bone marrow adult stem cell transplants. Graft-versus-host is a problem in which stem cells not derived from the patient are introduced into the patient to replace those lost through chemo/radiation, but the cells begin to attack the new “host” as foreign.

MSCTC’s director, cardiologist Dr. Dawn, is described by Prentice as one of the world leaders in cardiac repair technologies. With Dr. Dawn and other specialists at the Center, patients with severe heart ailments– formerly “without hope”– are given hope with adult stem cells.

Director Dawn pointed proudly to the Center’s accomplishments in a mere 3 ½ years, and described continuing efforts to collaborate with other scientists and private companies as well as develop methods and products that can be patented.

The fifth MSCTC annual conference is scheduled for September 15-16. Details about it and the Center can be found at http://www.kumc.edu/msctc.html.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center, committed to advancing the use of ethical science, is proving itself to be everything we hoped for.

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KFL's Jeanne Gawdun thanks Speaker Pro-Tem Paggy Mast for 20 years of service and pro-life leadership

KFL’s lobbyist, Jeanne Gawdun, thanks Speaker Pro-Tem Peggy Mast (right) for 20 years of service and pro-life leadership.

The upcoming 2017 legislative session in Topeka will open with our staunchly pro-life Governor and pro-life majorities in the House and Senate, but without 50 familiar faces.

23 pro-life lawmakers are retiring this year: 16 pro-life state reps and 7 senators. Add to that the 21 pro-life reps and 6 pro-life senators who did not win re-election. That’s a challenging loss of the experience of nearly one-third of both chambers.

There is an “institutional knowledge” of how successful laws get accomplished and how to avoid pitfalls. Veteran pro-life lawmakers:

  • are quick to catch dangerous amendments that would harm good pro-life bills;
  • advise new legislators against unwise concessions;
  • discourage bad proposals before they even become formal bills;
  • know the parliamentary procedures and when to press leadership for action;
  • are experienced at responding to constituents and pro-abortion lobbyists.

Kansas has passed great pro-life laws although it has been discouraging to have some jammed up in court. And soon, the Kansas Supreme Court will be ruling on the abortion attorneys’ proposed state right to abortion– with more extreme consequences than what we were given in Roe v Wade.

But at this juncture, we want to express our appreciation to the exiting lawmakers who stood up for the unborn, including being the first in the nation to pass the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. They deserve our gratitude– please send them a note of thanks! House contacts and Senate contacts.

Exiting Senators:
Steve Abrams, Tom Arpke, Terry Bruce, Les Donovan, Mitch Holmes, Jeff King, Forrest Knox, Garrett Love, Jeff Melcher, Michael O’Donnell, Ralph Ostmeyer, Larry Powell, and Greg Smith.

Exiting House Reps:
Steve Anthimides, Tony Barton, Sue Boldra, John Bradford, Rob Bruchman, Will Carpenter, John Edmonds, John Ewy, Mario Goico, Ramon Gonzalez, Amanda Grosserode, Dennis Hedke, Lane Hemsley, Jerry Henry, Brett Hildabrand, Becky Hutchins, Mark Hutton, Dick Jones, Mark Kahrs, Kasha Kelley, Jerry Lunn, Charles Macheers, Peggy Mast, Craig McPherson, Ray Merrick, Tom Moxley, Connie O’Brien, Jan Pauls, Virgil Peck, Marty Read, Marc Rhoades, John Rubin, Ron Ryckman, Sr., Joe Scapa, Sharon Schwartz, Chuck Smith, and James Todd.

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elections matterTurnout in the Kansas primaries was extremely low and the results rested heavily on economic issues, as AP writer John Hanna reported:

“The voting occurred against the backdrop not only of the state’s fiscal woes but ongoing legal and political disputes over funding for public schools. Kansas has struggled to balance its budget since the GOP-dominated Legislature slashed personal income taxes in 2012 and 2013 at Brownback’s urging to stimulate the economy.”

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran won his primary with 79% support, and Congressman Kevin Yoder won his 3rd District primary with 64%. Both have a 100% pro-life voting record.

Huelskamp loss for pro-lifers

KFL mourns Huelskamp primary  loss

However, embattled conservative and pro-life champion, Congressman Tim Huelskamp, lost in a fierce primary that saw multi-million dollars’ worth of ads from non-Kansas special interest groups. Challenger Roger Marshall, an Ob-Gyn doctor who describes himself as pro-life, won the GOP 1st district spot with 57% of the vote.

At the statehouse, KFL-endorsed candidates stacked up 18 wins in the House and 6 in the Senate, with 17 losses in the House and 10 in the Senate. However– and notably–in some races, the winners who had not earned KFL endorsement have stated they are pro-life.

HOUSE RESULTS
Ten reliable pro-life reps won their primaries yesterday along with eight KFL-endorsed challengers. A key issue for KFL endorsement has been the candidate’s willingness to allow the public a vote to improve judicial selection for the state Supreme Court. Otherwise, Kansas’ pro-life laws are jeopardized by rulings from extremist judges selected without public accountability.judicial selection

Pro-lifers were dismayed to learn of the defeat of eight great state representatives: Rob Bruchman, Will Carpenter, Brett Hildabrand, Jerry Lunn, Kasha Kelley, Charles Macheers, Craig McPherson, and Connie O’Brien. Three of those races had the narrowest of margins and may be recounted.

KFL-endorsed primary challengers lost in House districts 21, 45, 52, 60, 64, 68, 89, 104 and 115.

SENATE RESULTS
Headed into November Senate elections are pro-life incumbents Don Kerchen, Ty Masterson, and Mike Peterson along with KFL-endorsed former state reps Bud Estes and Gene Sullentrop.

Five great pro-life state Senators retired in May: Senators Steve Abrams, Les Donovan, Mitch Holmes, Jeff King and Michael O’Donnell. Primary results indicate voters in four districts (15, 25, 27 and 32), will have pro-life candidates to replace them, but not so in district 33.

Six solidly pro-life incumbent state senators disappointingly lost their primaries yesterday: Tom Arpke, Terry Bruce, Forrest Knox, Jeff Melcher, Larry Powell and Greg Smith. Four districts will be left without pro-life representation:  districts 11, 14, 21, and 24.

Dismemberment schmidt postcard, editTwo of the 6 winning Senate challengers had told the public they were pro-life. In district 34, Ed Berger was the victor. In the campaign, Berger claimed he was pro-life because he was Catholic, but refused to fill out the KFL survey. In district 39, challenger John Doll, a former Democrat who lost a statewide office race before winning a seat as a GOP state rep, has a mixed voting record on the life issues.

In a very bitter result for pro-lifers, a GOP Topeka district remains in the hands of the sole GOP Senator to vote against a ban on dismemberment abortions, Sen. Vicki Schmidt. The bill was signed into law in 2015, but awaits the review of the state Supreme Court—which appears to be delaying their ruling until after the November elections in which 5 of the 7 justices are up for retention.

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Kaine & Sebelius

Pro-abortion Catholics Kaine & Sebelius

There’s been a long line of abortion-supporting politicians who try to fool pro-lifers into believing that they were “catholic” and “personally pro-life” during campaign seasons.

Democrat Vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine, who hails from Kansas, described himself in his 2005 gubernatorial campaign as,“I’m Catholic; I’m against abortion.” However, as governor of Virginia and as a Virginia Senator after that, Kaine’s record has been 100% pro-abortion.

Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is another who was intentionally dishonest about her abortion support when she campaigned as a Catholic for governor in 2002. However, the abortion industry was not fooled.

The lobbyist for notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller bragged in fundraising letters in 2002 that Sebelius as governor would usher in a new era for abortion promotion.  And it did. Those were frustrating years for pro-lifers.

In the last few election cycles, thankfully, Kansans are voting out a great number of pro-abortion politicians. Which brings us to the Kansas primary elections on Aug. 2nd.

KANSAS DEMOCRATS
In 2004, there were at most two dozen Kansas pro-life Democrats. That was the last year that the Democrat Party’s national platform declared abortion should be “rare.” Their 2016 platform says abortion availability is a matter of “justice” and it should be tax-funded. Kansas Democrat pro-life lawmakers are now as rare as hens’ teeth.

Only six Kansas Democrat state reps voted last year to end the most vile and barbaric-dismemberment abortions that tear apart living, fully-formed unborn children. In the Senate, not even one Democrat voted for that same dismemberment ban. Not even one!

Kansas Democrats also uniformly oppose reforming our Kansas judicial selection process– the process that has led to extremist pro-abortion court rulings that are decimating Kansas pro-life protections.

KANSAS REPUBLICANS
When it comes to Kansas Republicans, the national and state platform is pro-life. Kansans voted out a significant number of GOP politicians who supported abortion or played games with the issue. Some of those politicians want their power back and have formed “shadow” advocacy groups in campaign season to sow confusion among pro-lifers.

During the GOP primary is where these groups hope to remove 100% pro-life lawmakers.

These groups are backing self-described “conservative” candidates whose major appeal is on other issues, like taxes. Senate races in districts 34 and 39 are instructive.

100% pro-life Sens. Bruce & Powell

100% pro-life:  Bruce & Powell

In Senate district 34, pro-life incumbent Terry Bruce, is the Senate majority leader and a proven pro-life champion with a 100% voting record. Sen. Bruce has the endorsement of the KFL-PAC.

His challenger, Ed Berger has

  • no record of pro-life advocacy;
  • refused to fill out the KFL candidate survey;
  • supports keeping the current judicial selection model acknowledged as the worst in the nation.

Berger’s backers want voters to solely rely on Berger’s claim that his Catholic faith will insure he votes pro-life—while the sad reality is there are many pro-abortion Catholics in the Kansas State House.

In Senate district 39, 100% pro-life incumbent Larry Powell has a stellar voting record extending back into his days as a state rep. This is reflective of his district’s pro-life sentiment and Sen. Powell has the endorsement of the KFL-PAC.

Challenger John Doll–a former Democrat and current state rep– has a dismal pro-life record, contrary to what he may claim. In his four years in the House, he voted for the anti-life position nearly half the time!

Pro-lifers who put the pro-life issue on the back burner would betray all of the protections we have achieved in Kansas.

Serious pro-life voters cannot rely on candidates who merely proclaim they are “pro-life,“ due to their religious affiliation.
That is a smokescreen unless the candidate also supports reforming the judicial nominating system that is undermining all of Kansas’ hard-fought pro-life laws.

A complete list of candidates endorsed by the KFL-PAC is found at www.voteprolife.net.

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vote babyAdvance voting for the Kansas primary elections began last week and the political advertising battles are in full swing in mailboxes, on TV and in deceitful, newly-created websites of advocacy groups the public has never heard of.

The authentic pro-life candidates have the endorsement of Kansans for Life. Period.

Those who do not, will try to confuse voters.

KEY FACT #1: Pro-life candidates do not merit your support if they do not support reform of the judicial nomination process to the Kansas Supreme Court. The current process is acknowledged as the worst in the nation, with a majority of non-elected attorneys selecting their favorites for the bench.

KEY FACT #2: Kansas courts are wrongly undermining all our hard-fought pro-life laws and supposedly “pro-life” politicians who deny this are either delusional or dishonest.

Right now, the Kansas Supreme Court should be overturning a horrible and ridiculous lower court ruling that dismemberment abortions are protected under the state’s pre-Civil War Constitution.

Instead of promptly denying that there is any state right to abortion, the Supreme Court justices appear to be delaying their ruling until after their November retention elections, and conducting an unprecedented state-wide self-promotion campaign.

CAMPAIGN TRUSTWORTHINESS
Kansans for Life is always upfront about its endorsement policies and all our efforts to describe the pro-life voting records of elected officials. The public trusts our judgment, because KFL:

  1. has been at the Statehouse for 33 years, accurately monitoring legislative action in committees and working with legislators for passage of excellent pro-life measures.
  2. puts the pro-life agenda ahead of partisan concerns;
  3. has a thoughtful and thorough candidate survey and a responsible vetting process;
  4. is honest in all our communications.

Many former politicians –mostly the kind who bitterly fought pro-life bills in the legislature– miss their political power and are “embarrassed” that Kansas is the nation’s model for pro-life laws.

These ex-politicians (with other self-proclaimed ruling elites) have formed a number of short-lived advocacy groups that spend a lot of money to intentionally confuse the public during the campaign season, with faulty pro-life claims about Kansas House and Senate races.

Certain pro-abortion Republicans have been involved in these shadow groups for many years, although the names of their shadow “coalitions” change. In targeted pro-life areas, these groups use masterfully deceptive media messaging, for example:

  • The just-arisen “Kansas Freedom Alliance” artfully cherry-picks some pro-life legislation to support their candidates who oppose the desperately needed court reforms that will actually uphold those pro-life laws.
  • The new “Save Kansas Coalition” is allied with new and old groups supported by anti-life forces, like the “Women for Kansas” group that failed to oust Gov. Brownback in 2014.

Every KFL-PAC endorsed candidate is proud of that support, and their names will be found at www.voteprolife.net.

To get your personally tailored pro-life ballot for all races, go to www.voteprolife.net.

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pp money (2)The Kansas Legislature adjourned for the year in the wee hours of Monday morning, with two big victories in the area of pro-life healthcare. UPDATE, May 13: Gov. Brownback signed both measures into law this week.

Disappointingly, the time clock hurt us on achieving Simon’s Law, which will be explained further on in this post.

Senate Bill 248, formerly SB 436 (KFL testimony here) was enacted late Sunday evening. It enacts, as permanent law, the “Huelskamp-Kinzer” language prioritizing Title X federal reproductive health money to full-service public health clinics.

Planned Parenthood hates this mechanism because they do not qualify as full-service and it’s a big chunk of Kansas money they no longer get. Planned Parenthood filed a legal challenge against the prioritization but lost in federal appeals court. Title X Kansas funding now surpasses the pre-litigation level.

Sen. Masterson, Sen. Tyson

Sen. Masterson, Sen. Tyson

Huelskamp-Kinzer language is a model way for states to improve healthcare for the indigent, by funneling Title X money to comprehensive services at “safety net” clinics and public hospitals.

State Sen. Caryn Tyson (R- Parker) carried the bill and Sen. Ty Masterson (R-Andover) shepherded it to completion. The vote was 87-34 in the House and 32-8 in the Senate.

MIDWIVES’ ROLE IN ABORTION STOPPED
Kansas passed a large bill, HB 2615, with a number of sections regulating health care services and providers. The section governing the independent practice of midwives includes pro-life language:
            Nothing in the independent practice of midwifery act should be call midwifeconstrued to authorize a certified nurse-midwife engaging in the independent practice of midwifery under such act to perform, induce or prescribe drugs for an abortion.”

There was quite a bit of educating to do on this subject as some legislators just didn’t want to believe that nurse midwives– those most intimately dedicated to nurturing labor and delivery– would actually do abortions.  Yet the National Abortion Federation has long had a strategy for increasing “access to abortion” (i.e. more babies aborted) by expanding the scope of practice of lower level health care professionals. Read more on this topic, including a memo from National Right to Life Director of State Legislation, Mary Spaulding Balch, J.D. here.

Sen. O'Donnell, Sen. Pilcher Cook

Sen. O’Donnell, Sen. Pilcher Cook

Sen. Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R-Wichita) and Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook (R-Shawnee) were real champions on insuring the abortion ban stayed with the midwives’ regulation. The House passed the final healthcare bill 115-7, but only after Senators voted 26-12 to insure that the final version kept the pro-life language.

TIME CRUNCH HURT SIMON’s LAW
This year’s Kansas legislature was dominated by a budget crisis, and in an unprecedented move, leadership cancelled two weeks of legislative session time.  This really doomed House consideration of Simon’s Law, despite heroic

Sen. Laturner, Rep. Pauls

Sen. LaTurner, Rep. Pauls

attempts by bill sponsor, Sen. Jacob LaTurner (R-Pittsburg), vice-chair of the Senate Federal & State Affairs committee, and Rep. Jan Pauls (R-Hutchinson), Chair of the House Federal & State Affairs committee, to maneuver it to get a House vote.

Simon’s Law is a vital bill to protect parental rights in preventing the unilateral issuance of Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) for minors. The measure has gained tremendous public enthusiasm, and secured an amazing 37-3 bipartisan vote in the Kansas Senate. With support of pediatric specialists across the country and four pro-life medical groups, Kansas ought to be enacting Simon’s Law next year.

baby SImon Crosier died to a secret DNR

baby Simon Crosier died due to a secret DNR

Lest too rosy a picture be painted about Simon’s Law, however, it must be noted that not one Kansas medical facility or physician group officially testified about the measure—pro, con or neutral—and many well-paid medical lobbyists out of the public eye pushed to kill the bill. Apparently, the current ability to issue DNRs unilaterally is sadly a power that too many medical entities do not want brokered by parents.

The movement to educate the public about discrimination in life-sustaining procedures has just begun and the entire nation needs Simon’s Law.

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