Gov. Sam Brownback today signed into law two bills that supporters said would tighten abortion restrictions, though it wasn't immediately clear if either would significantly reduce the number of Kansas abortions, which has been in decline.
The number of abortions reported in the state last year - 8,338 - was the lowest since 1988, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.
House Bill 2218 would add additional restrictions on abortions after the 21st week of pregnancy. But there was only one late-term abortion reported in Kansas in 2010, according to Kathy Ostrowski of Kansans for Life, one of the state's leading anti-abortion groups.
"I don't believe we'll see any change in late-term abortions," Ostrowski said.
The number of late-term abortions reported in the state dropped significantly after the murder of Dr. George Tiller of Wichita, one of the few doctors in the U.S. who provided the procedure.
KDHE statistics also show that women in Kansas increasingly rely on abortion pills to terminate pregnancies early on.
Ostrowski said House Bill 2035, which would require consent from both parents before a minor could obtain an abortion, would more likely decrease the number of abortions, though she said it was too soon to know by how much. That measure also was signed by the governor.
His signature made Kansas the third state in the nation to have such a law, after Mississippi and North Dakota. Almost half the states have parental consent laws, but most require sign-off from only one parent.
Both measures passed the Legislature by wide margins and had support from Republicans and Democrats.
Brownback did a ceremonial signing of the bills in a wing of the Statehouse to accommodate the large number of bill supporters and news reporters.
He was flanked by about two dozen abortion foes including several legislators. At one elbow during the signing was Rep. TerriLois Gregory, a freshman Republican from Baldwin City; at the other was Sen. Mary Pilcher Cook, a veteran Republican lawmaker from Shawnee. Ostrowski stood directly behind him.
Brownback said the new laws affirmed "life as sacred and beautiful in Kansas."
"It is our calling to support the dignity of every human being whether that person is unemployed, undereducated or unborn," the governor said.
But a spokesman for Planned Parenthood blasted Brownback and the Legislature for passing the new laws.
“We are disappointed the Kansas Legislature and Governor Brownback are putting the health and safety of Kansas women and families at risk for purposes of political posturing," said Peter Brownlie, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. "Neither bill does anything to reduce the number of abortions in Kansas, but we know what does work – access to affordable birth control and comprehensive sex education.”