Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Panel's Abortion Hearing Heated ; Abortion: No Exemption for Rape, Incest in Latest Bill

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Panel's Abortion Hearing Heated ; Abortion: No Exemption for Rape, Incest in Latest Bill

Article excerpt

The House committee hearing on a bill banning in Kansas a specific abortion procedure Monday delivered jagged emotional appeals intended to influence legislative votes and get under the skin of policy opponents.

Rep. Dick Jones, R-Topeka, pushed the envelope while advocating on behalf of Senate Bill 95, which would make illegal the "dismemberment" method relied upon in 8 percent, or about 600, abortions conducted annually in Kansas.

"I know a rotten egg when I crack it," he said. "This is really a filthy practice. Jesus Christ. This is really pathetic."

Jones said he was struggling to restrain his "rage" and sarcastically suggested any state allowing pregnant women to kill a fetus ought to also permit those women to slay a son or daughter after birth without consequence.

Topekan Mary Akerstrom, who testified in opposition to the bill, said the state had no business creating laws that restricted abortion and infringed upon the liberty of women to make autonomous, independent decisions.

"It is not the state's responsibility to 'save her soul,' but rather to protect her liberty and pursuit of happiness," Akerstrom said. "For some women, happiness and even basic survival is dependent on not having a child. We already have enough restrictions on abortion in Kansas."

Under the bill passed by the Senate and endorsed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, this type of abortion would be illegal in Kansas except when necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or to prevent substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. There is no exemption for rape or incest.

A physician conducting an abortion by this method could be charged with a misdemeanor for a first offense and with a felony for subsequent offenses. Lawsuits could be filed against an abortion clinic performing abortions in a way that involved extracting dismembered parts of a fetus.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer offered testimony in support of the legislation, saying no issue in the 2015 session was more important than adhering to the sanctity of life. …

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