Kansas legislators fail to override veto of abortion pill reversal law

Wichita, Kan., May 2, 2019 / 04:10 pm (CNA).- By a single vote, the Kansas legislature failed to override a governor’s veto of a bill requiring doctors who administer the two-pill abortion drug regimen to tell women that the abortion pill can be reversed.

In the Kansas Senate, 27 senators voted to override. Only 83 legislators in the House of Representatives voted to override, one short of the two-thirds majority needed.

Rep. Jan Kessinger, an Overland Park Republican, had voted for the bill but voted against override. Citing discussions with constituents with different views of the bill, he said he decided the issue needs more research, the Wichita Eagle reports. Kessinger said he doesn’t believe the legislature should be “in the medical practice,” and the bill is not necessarily the best medical decision but he also does not believe the bill will be harmful.

The initial passage of Senate Bill 67 had drawn some support from several Democratic legislators, but they did not back an override of the veto from Gov. Laura Kelly. Kelly, a Democrat, had campaigned on support of legal abortion and had criticized a Democratic gubernatorial primary rival for voting in favor of abortion restrictions in the Kansas legislature.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman has said lawmakers will reconsider the vote, and he voiced hope that a re-vote will result in an override.

A chemical abortion is a two-step process that involves the ingestion of two drugs: mifepristone, also known as RU-486, and misoprostol. The first drug, mifepristone, effectively starves the unborn baby by blocking the effects of the hormone progesterone. The second drug, misoprostol, is taken up to two days later and induces labor.

Backers of abortion pill reversal say the abortion can sometimes be reversed if a woman takes high doses of progesterone after she takes the mifepristone but before she takes misoprostol, though this must be done quickly.

Under the Kansas proposal, if a clinic that dispenses the abortion drug fails to display a notice about the reversal procedure, it could be fined $10,000. A doctor who fails to notify a patient could face misdemeanor charges for the first offense and a felony for the second offense.

Gov. Kelly said the Kansas legislation “forces health care providers to adhere to a government mandate not adequately supported by medical science.” She characterized it as “unnecessary legislation that would interfere with the relationship between women and their physicians.”

State Rep. Brenda Landwehr, (R-Wichita), voted to override the veto.

“The idea that we can give an opportunity for a change of heart in deciding to have an abortion is a right that every single woman should have,” she said.

Mary Kay Kulp, executive director of Kansas for Life had characterized the bill as “common sense legislation” that “empowers women with information that could help them save their babies, should they change their minds about completing their medication abortions.”

The Kansas Supreme Court, in a 6-1 April decision, for the first time ruled that the state constitution protects the right to abortion. Its decision upheld dismemberment abortions, known technically as dilation and extraction abortions.

The ruling could affect many state abortion regulations and hinder any efforts to restore legal protections to unborn babies if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and other precedents that mandate legal abortion nationwide.

Other abortion reversal notification legislation passed the Oklahoma legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Kevin Sitt on March 25.

Arizona legislation similar to the Kansas bill was passed in 2015, then repealed in 2016 after legal challenges and a failure to find a credible expert willing to defend it. The State of Arizona had to pay Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers more than $600,000 in attorney fees and other costs spent fighting the law, the Associated Press said.

Dr. George Delgado, M.D., a pro-life California doctor, has been a leader in medical interventions to reverse the effects of the abortion pill regimen. He and several other researchers wrote another analysis of abortion pill reversal in the journal Issues in Law and Medicine in April 2018.

In observations of 754 patients who sought abortion pill reversal before taking the second drug, the researchers said that intramuscular progesterone had a reversal rate of 64% and high dose oral progesterone had a reversal rate of 68%.

Their report’s methodology has drawn some objections from other researchers, who argue that simply failing to take the second abortion pill may have similar results to undergoing the reversal protocol. However, its supporters say the protocol does not have significant drawbacks, because it does not harm the woman or baby.

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