TOPEKA, Kan. – Kansas legislators approved an anti-abortion bill Tuesday that would ensure that women and girls seeking abortions are able to see ultrasound images or hear their fetus' heartbeat before the procedure.
The bill now needs the approval of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has repeatedly vetoed anti-abortion bills in the past. Anti-abortion groups are opposing her appointment by President Obama to serve as U.S. secretary of health and human services, but the bill's backers are hopeful she'll sign it to ease her confirmation in the Senate.
"I think there's an awfully good chance, for a variety of reasons, that she'll sign this bill," said Kathy Ostrowski, a lobbyist for the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life. "It's the right thing to do, but politically, it's probably very helpful to her to sign this bill."
The state Senate approved the bill on a 32-6 vote Tuesday, two weeks after the state House approved it. In both chambers, supporters had more than the two-thirds majorities they would need to override a veto.
Sebelius vetoed bills to impose new restrictions on abortion providers or regulations on clinics in 2003, 2005 and 2008. Last year's bill contained ultrasound and heartbeat-monitoring requirements, but the governor didn't single them out in her veto message.
Sebelius' spokeswoman gave no hints as to whether she'll sign the most recent bill.
Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said he was skeptical that signing the bill would help Sebelius much with anti-abortion groups.
"They've already mounted a full-scale attack," he said.
Among other things, the bill amends a law requiring doctors to obtain a patient's informed consent before performing an abortion. Abortion providers who use ultrasound or monitor fetal heartbeats would have to give their patients access to the images or sound at least 30 minutes before an abortion.