Kansas Legislature approves ‘born alive’ bill with veto-proof majority

By Kate Scanlon | OSV News

(OSV News) — Kansas lawmakers approved a “born-alive infants protection act” April 4, sending the legislation to Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s desk with a veto-proof majority. The bill aims to protect infants born alive, regardless of whether the intent was to abort them, and marks the first abortion-related legislation passed in the state since Kansas voters rejected an effort to strip abortion protections from their state constitution last year.

The Kansas House voted 86 to 36 to pass the bill, HB 2313, which would require physicians to provide medical care to infants “born alive” as the result of a botched abortion procedure appropriate to their gestational age, and to report data to the state about any such incidents. The Kansas bill also would apply to instances where doctors induce labor to deliver an unborn child that is not expected to survive outside the womb.

A file photo shows March for Life participants from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., carry the event’s banner past the front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington. Kansas lawmakers approved a bill protecting infants born alive from a failed abortion April 4, 2023, with veto-proof majority. (CNS photo/Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)

“A supermajority of Kansas legislators heard the testimonies of abortion attempt survivors and doctors and responded with compassion,” Danielle Underwood, director of communications for Kansans for Life, said in a statement. “The bill now heads to the governor’s desk where she can sign it into law, allow it to become law without her signature, or veto it. What will Gov. Laura Kelly do next?”

Kelly previously vetoed a born alive bill in 2019, but the new born alive bill passed both the state’s House and Senate with more than the two-thirds majority necessary to override a veto.

Critics of the bill say the legislation could come between patients and their doctors about difficult medical decisions, with some arguing such instances of infants surviving abortions rarely to never occur.

“This bill is absolutely unnecessary,” Democratic Sen. Pat Pettey, of Kansas City, said during a debate on the bill in March. “This bill will traumatize mothers who desperately want to be mothers, who already are dealing with the (most) heart-breaking moments of loss imaginable.”

Proponents of born alive bills argue that such instances do occur, pointing to cases like that of Philadelphia abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in 2013 of first-degree murder for cutting the spinal cords of multiple babies delivered alive in his abortion clinic, as well as the involuntary manslaughter of an adult patient, performing abortions beyond Pennsylvania’s limit of 24 weeks, among other charges.

Underwood argued that Kansans “must hold our elected leaders accountable to recognize these babies exist and deserve equal care.”

“Kansans for Life calls on all who believe that no baby should be left to die alone on a cold, steel table to urge Gov. Laura Kelly to quickly sign the Kansas Born Alive Infants Protection Act into law,” Underwood said.

Even with the governor unable to veto the bill, the measure could potentially be challenged in court or not enforced. Courts have blocked Kansas from enforcing a 2015 ban on a type of second-trimester abortion procedure.

Author: OSV News

OSV News is a national and international wire service reporting on Catholic issues and issues that affect Catholics.

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