New Kan. law requires offering pre-abortion ultrasounds

Saturday, March 28, 2009

TOPEKA, Kan. -- Gov. Kathleen Sebelius signed a bill Friday to ensure that women and girls seeking abortions in Kansas are allowed to see ultrasound images or hear their fetus' heartbeat before the procedure.

The bill, which takes effect July 1, amends a state law requiring doctors to obtain a patient's informed consent before performing an abortion. The measure requires abortion providers who use ultrasound or monitor fetal heartbeats to give their patients access to the images or sound at least 30 minutes before an abortion.

Spokeswoman Beth Martino said Sebelius concluded that the bill had no constitutional flaws, didn't jeopardize patient privacy and did not block access to health services. The governor has in the past vetoed legislation sought by anti-abortion groups.

Sebelius said in a statement that residents want politicians to move beyond such divisive legislative debates and tackle issues such as improving health care and controlling health care costs.

"Now, more than ever, we need to focus on those priorities, which unite the people of Kansas," she said.

Supporters of the bill said it would ensure women have enough information to make decisions about abortion and protect their health.

Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said its clinic in Overland Park already allows women to see ultrasound images but few accept the offer.

"We had hoped that Governor Sebelius would veto the bill, and we're disappointed that she did not," Brownlie said. "We give people complete information so they can make their own decisions."

The law also requires providers to post a notice saying it is illegal for anyone to try to force a woman or girl to have an abortion.

The new law makes Kansas the 13th state in the country to require that abortion providers offer patients a chance to see ultrasound images, according to national groups.

Kansas abortion foes had predicted Sebelius, who is awaiting U.S. Senate confirmation as President Obama's nominee for federal secretary of health and human services, would sign the bill to appear more moderate.

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