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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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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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Rep. Humphries

Rep. Weber

Members of the Kansas House Federal & State Affairs committee heard testimony Tuesday on the DISCLOSE ACT, HB 2319, which requires that clinics list some basic professional information about staff abortionists .

For context, in Kansas, the abortion transaction is largely contracted online. After a call or email contact to the clinic, a woman is instructed to download the clinic consent form, time-stamped at least than 24 hours before the abortion.

By law, the form must include reference to the state Woman’s Right to Know website— with extensive information including a list of Kansas pregnancy assistance centers and an interactive website about gestational development.

What remains hidden from the woman when she “signs” the consent, is information about who specifically will be doing the abortion.Instead, the clinic lists the names of their staff abortionists, without adding one shred of basic professional data about them.

The woman contemplating an abortion in any Kansas clinic is unaware that

some of the abortionists commute from outside Kansas, 3-7 hours driving distance, to reach the clinic –where they don’t have local hospital privileges.

The attorney for the South Wind abortion business, Bob Eye, discounted hospital privileges as “not advancing women’s health.”

He was rebutted by Rep Susan Humphries (R-Wichita) who said that — just using abortion proponents’ assertion that only 1% of women are hospitalized after abortion–  is enough of a consideration to be a valid health concern for women. In Kansas, 1% would be 69 women of an annual total of 6,941 abortions in 2015.

For elective medical procedures in contexts other than abortion, the patient can easily learn about a practitioner from word of mouth and visits to medical offices. This is not what is happening for abortion. Rep. Chuck Weber (R-Wichita) remarked that women considering abortion should not be denied relevant information, leaving them to rely on “Google.”

CHairman Barker

Chairman Barker

Rep. Whitmer

Rep. John Whitmer (R-Wichita) described the goal of the DISCLOSE ACT as transparency, and asked the Planned Parenthood lobbyist, Elise Higgins, “what are abortion clinics trying to hide?” She replied “nothing” yet went on to decry the bill as aiming to “undermine confidence in highly qualified physicians.”

Perhaps Higgins was trying to deflect from the fact that some women may question why “highly qualified” physicians find themselves at age 75 and 76 driving long-distances to perform abortions for Planned Parenthood.

The House Federal and State Affairs Chairman, John Barker (R-Abilene), did not announce when the bill will be voted upon.

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comp health PP (2)Kansas cannot cut off Medicaid funding for two Planned Parenthood affiliates reports the Associated Press this evening.

“The Governor will continue the fight to make Kansas a pro-life state,” said Eileen Hawley, spokeswoman for Gov. Brownback,  “We will review today’s preliminary ruling and move forward with the litigation.”

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kansas, issued the temporary ruling late Tuesday which prevents the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) from cutting off funding Thursday for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and the organization’s St. Louis regional affiliate.

Mary Kay Culp, KFL executive director, commented,

“We oppose any public money that helps the abortion giant Planned Parenthood stay open. Planned Parenthood is not the trusted health-care provider they like to call themselves –everything they do is poisoned by their abortion business and advocacy .”

Planned Parenthood in Overland Park was indeed trafficking in baby body parts in the late 90’s, which caused Kansas to enact a law governing fetal tissue procurement.

Several ongoing bona fide lawsuits nationwide have found Planned Parenthood to be defrauding the public. See here.

The state of Kansas should have control of dispensing federal tax funded support to the indigent and have trustworthy partners. KDHE alleges they did not get respectful access to onsite inspection from Planned Parenthood that health care grantees must provide.

Unfortunately, the authorization language for Medicaid is not the same as for the Title X federal funding. Federal changes should be made to allow states more control over tax-funded health care distribution. The Medicaid amount involved appears to be under $50,000 this year.

Kansans for Life is happy, however, that

Planned Parenthood no longer gets Kansas Title X annual health care funding–well over one-third million dollars– that is now going to full-service public clinics and hospitals.

Kansas won that battle in court and this past session, the legislature made that funding priority a permanent statute. Read more here.

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apemanDespite the histrionics of Salon’s Andrea Marcotte , and the not-so-subtle inferences of the Wichita Eagle that pro-lifers are nutty, the creation of animal-human hybrids (called “chimeras”) is indeed worrying at least some scientists.

NPR (National Public Radio) has run stories about the controversy which (as usual) involves researchers impatient with any limitations.

On the May 18, 2016 radio broadcast, of NPR’s “All Things Considered” Rob Stein reported:

A handful of scientists around the United States are trying to do something that some people find disturbing: make embryos that are part human, part animal. … But some scientists and bioethicists worry the creation of these interspecies embryos crosses the line. “You’re getting into unsettling ground that I think is damaging to our sense of humanity,” says Stuart Newman, a professor of cell biology and anatomy at the New York Medical College.

The experiments are so sensitive that the National Institutes of Health [NIH] has imposed a moratorium on funding them while officials explore the ethical issues they raise.

Previously, Stein had filed a report on NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Nov. 6, 2015, titled, “Should human cells be used to make partly human chimeras?” Stein revealed that the NIH was holding a workshop that day focused on this chimera agenda, and presumably, the funding moratorium.

One of the proposals was to fund “research in which human pluripotent cells are introduced into non-human vertebrate animal pre-gastrulation stage embryos.”

In the written story that accompanied the May 18 broadcast, Stein explained, “Scientists have been creating partly human chimeras for years. …What’s new is putting human stem cells into the embryos of other animals, very early in embryonic development.”

Stein uses as an example, the experiments of Pablo Ross, a reproductive biologist at the University of California, Davis. In simplest terms, Ross’ research:

  1. takes a pig embryo,
  2. deletes a gene,
  3. adds human cells,
  4. puts the altered chimera embryo into a pig womb,
  5. checks to see whether a human organ is forming,
  6. destroys the chimera embryo within 28 days,
  7. continues such experiments with variations.

ANIMAL-HUMAN HYBRID ETHICAL CONCERNS
Stein lists some concerns about chimera experiments raised by Newman and other professors and ethicists:

  • Human stem cells could form human sperm and human eggs in the chimeras.
  • Animals could give birth to some kind of part-human, part-pig creature.
  • If you have pigs with partly human brains you would have animals that might actually have consciousness like a human.
  • If a male chimeric pig mated with a female chimeric pig, the result could be a human fetus developing in the uterus of that female chimera.

Stein writes, “The uncertainty is part of what makes the work so controversial. Ross and other scientists conducting these experiments can’t know exactly where the human stem cells will go. Ross hopes they’ll only grow a human pancreas. But they could go elsewhere, such as to the brain.”caution

Newman told Stein, “If you have pigs with partly human brains you would have animals that might actually have consciousness like a human,” adding, “It might have human-type needs. We don’t really know.”

The Wichita Eagle story (the basis for Marcotte’s  rant) focused on some of the bio-tech issues Kansans for Life included on our Political Action Committee’s questionnaire for candidates to the Statehouse. I was quoted accurately but derisively about pro-life concerns:

“The questionnaire is a way to show candidates the range of the kinds of things that the pro-life movement is interested in…[cloning and animal /human hybrids (chimeras)] has  been a concern for over 10 years. We’re not inventing this. This is not crazy stuff. Am I aware of it happening in Kansas? At this moment, no. But does that mean it’s not happening somewhere, I can’t tell you that.”

Apparently, it is happening in the U.S. –and even the NIH is denying funding until vexing ethical questions are examined.

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Teens at workshop

Rapt Teens for Life audience at KFL convention workshop

For a long time, Kansas was on the map as an abortion-friendly state. But the persistence of pro-life Kansans reversed that, and that indomitable spirit was on display Saturday at Kansans for Life’s state convention.

A big turnout at the Wichita Hyatt Regency began with a prayer breakfast and closed with a concert. In between, convention-goers were the beneficiaries of intense tutorials, workshops, panel discussions, and camaraderie.

There were three different program tracks throughout the day—General Audience, Latinos for Life, and Teens for Life.

close in teens

Teens at KFL convention

“Latinos and Teens,” said Convention organizer, KFL’s Development Director David Gittrich, “were especially energized to get equipped to educate and involve their peers in the effort to defend innocent human life.”

Comments from participants in all three tracks were extremely positive and many expressed their gratitude for the event.

The opening general session featured two of NRLC’s top talents: Burke Balch, director of the Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics, and Mary Spaulding Balch, director of state legislation. The husband and wife team offered a joint exposition on “Pro-Life Lessons from Lincoln.”

This was a riveting explanation of the role the courts played in the civil rights movement, and how we can match those successes in the courts today using NRLC-supported legislation. One attendee said, “This is an absolutely remarkable defense of a strategy that will succeed!”

The afternoon general session featured international stem-cell expert, Dr. David Prentice, now at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, presenting an update on the successes of ethical stem cell therapies. Dr. Prentice is a founding member of the first-of-its-kind Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center at the University of Kansas Medical Center, now in its third year of operation.

Gov. Brownback, NRLC's Mary & Burke Balch, Lt. Gov. Colyer

Gov. Sam Brownback, Mary & Burke Balch, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer

The audience was enthralled with the amount of stem cell clinical trials that are helping patients, including Kansans, and the medical marvels now occurring.

There was a broad selection of workshops available, including The Unborn Child’s Pain Capability, Why Judicial Reform is a Pro-life Issue, Threats to Receiving Life-sustaining Care in Kansas, and An Obamacare Alternative.

Latino and Teen tracks included topics tailored to their viewpoints and strengths.

Latinos for Life workshop

Latinos for Life workshop

Kate Gruver, from Pure and Simple, was a convention presenter and facilitated the Teens for Life track.  She said she was gratified to have so many people — including attendees from another state! “The teens were full of passion in their ‘standing for life,‘ and enjoyed learning from new perspectives,” she said.

Mary Spaulding Balch, did the “lifeboat” rationing exercise with the Teen track, and was very impressed to see so many young people who are passionate about protecting the lives of unborn children and the medically dependent.

“Their zeal is contagious,” she said. “Their participation is encouraging. The future looks bright.”

The Latinos for Life events “were very well received, with enthusiastic interaction,” reported Anna Myers, KFL’s Director of Hispanic Outreach.  The entire Latinos for Life track was in Spanish and attendees came from the far west to east end of the state.

It was Myers’ inspiration to close the convention with a highly successful Rondalla concert/rally featuring a variety of stringed musicians, and gospel singers.convention, Latinos for Life rondalla

Closing remarks for the day were delivered by Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell, Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, and Gov. Sam Brownback. The Governor detailed 15 pro-life measures he had signed into law and told the happy crowd, “Kansas is pro-life and we are not going back!”

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new year baby2014 saw many pro-life victories for Kansas, the fruit of decades of efforts by pro-lifers to fight a culture of death through education, legislation and providing loving help to women feeling abandoned during pregnancy. Kansans for Life played a key role in these efforts, with exciting new developments in the works.

Pro-lifers can proudly claim credit for the fact that pro-life candidates won all of Kansas’ statewide offices, along with 94 of the 125 seats in the Kansas House of Representatives in the 2014 elections. Notably, pro-life stalwarts Governor Sam Brownback and U.S. Senator Pat Roberts won re-election over their radically pro-abortion challengers.

As officially reported by the Kansas Department of Health & Environment, the number of Kansas abortions dropped to 7,485 in 2013, from 7,598 in 2012 (2014 numbers aren’t available until March 2015). Many reasons can be attributed to the continued drop,  including the improved availability of informed consent information online and increased utilization of pregnancy care centers statewide.

  • No late-term abortions (after 22 weeks pregnancy) are allowed in Kansas due to a 2011 pro-life law acknowledging the unborn child’s ability to feel pain.
  • Abortions for sex-selection reasons are illegal.
  • Minors must secure two-parent consent to abortion.

Kansas is now down to three abortion clinics. The Kansas City Aid for Women abortion clinic closed abruptly at the end of July. It claimed the reason for the sudden closure was the retirement of its 73-year-old abortionist but this clinic was notorious for its string of abortionists with lengthy histories of malpractice cases and disciplinary actions issued by the state medical board. Not surprisingly, Aid for Women failed to attain a state-issued license in June 2011 after passage of the Kansas clinic licensure and regulation law– a pro-life law currently under legal challenge. The clinic admitted it would “have to gut the place” to be in compliance and thus Kansas women and unborn children are safer with the closing of this substandard clinic.

Kansas continues to successfully defend pro-life laws promoted by Kansans for Life.

A major pro-life legal win occurred in early May when Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri dropped its 2011 lawsuit in federal court. They had sued against the Kansas budget provision that prioritized federal family planning funds be given to public full-service clinics rather than “specialty” clinics like Planned Parenthood. After the state’s budget authority was upheld, Planned Parenthood’s already-failing “abortion-feeder”clinic in Hays closed its doors – showing that this clinic relied on government money to survive.

Just weeks ago, Planned Parenthood also backed out of another lawsuit, in federal court, just days before it was headed to trial.  At issue was their past refusal to obey a provision of the 2013 Pro-Life Protections Act that required that every abortion clinic website have a live link on their home page that connected to the state’s Woman’s Right to Know website. The law intends that there be “one-click access” to sonogram images and information about the development of the unborn child to anyone remotely, or directly, considering abortion.

This year the Hodes-Nauser abortion clinic also lost its legal block (an injunction in state district court) of the same weblink provision. All three abortion clinics are now compliant with that live link. Thus, the fourth success for defense attorneys under Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in defending sound pro-life laws promoted by Kansans for Life.

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