TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Abortion opponents are using their questions about Planned Parenthood’s handling of fetal tissue to bolster arguments that other states should follow Kansas in approving a ban on a common procedure for ending second-trimester pregnancies.
Supporters of abortion rights Thursday decried what they saw as another episode in an ongoing campaign to limit access to abortion services as Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has called upon his state’s medical board to investigate whether fetal tissue is being sold commercially in violation of state and federal law.
Brownback and governors of states acted after anti-abortion activists released two secretly recorded videos of Planned Parenthood officials from California and New York discussing how they provide organs from aborted fetuses for research. Planned Parenthood has said the videos have been edited to mislead viewers into thinking the organization is profiting from providing tissue and that the group fully complies with state and federal law on handling it.
“The organizations behind these videos will do anything to deny women the right and ability to make their own medical decisions,” David Brown, an attorney for the nonprofit Center for Reproductive Rights, said in a statement.
Kansas earlier this year enacted the nation’s first ban on what abortion opponents describe as dismembering a fetus, but a state district court judge last month temporarily blocked it from taking effect. Abortion opponents say prohibiting that common second-trimester procedure also would restrict any potential fetal-tissue trafficking.
The Kansas law embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee, and Oklahoma enacted a measure set to take effect in November. The national anti-abortion group said this week that the videos show a need for such laws to prevent “grisly practices.”
The statute would ban doctors from using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments to remove a fetus from the womb in pieces. Such instruments are commonly used in the dilation and evacuation procedure.
Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, said the method also allows fetal organs to be kept intact.
State and federal law do allow tissue to be donated if a woman having an abortion consents and reimbursements for costs of handling and transporting it.
Brown said women who have abortions should also be allowed to make the “very compassionate” decision to donate tissue for research on diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
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