Kansas and Arizona governors veto bills to protect babies born alive after botched abortions  

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Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly on Friday vetoed a “born-alive” bill protecting babies who survive botched abortions. This comes the week after Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a similar bill mandating doctors’ care for abortion survivors.

Both Kansas and Arizona have majority Republican legislatures but Democratic governors.

In Kansas, where abortion is legal until the 22nd week of pregnancy, the governor called the born-alive bill “misleading” and “unnecessary.”

“Federal law already protects newborns, and the procedure being described in this bill does not exist in Kansas in the era of modern medicine,” Kelly claimed in her official veto statement.

“The intent of this bill is to interfere in medical decisions that should remain between doctors and their patients,” Kelly added.

Contrary to Kelly’s claims, Sarah Moe with the Abortion Survivors Network told CNA that her organization projects that 1,734 babies are born alive after failed surgical abortions every year.

“Although 1,734 is what we can account for based on those more medical procedures, it’s really hard to track the chemical abortions, which is going to yield a higher failure rate, which means a higher survival rate for those infants,” Moe said. “And those infants in turn are susceptible to exposure to another abortion.” 

“During the 49 and a half years of Roe v. Wade, we estimate that 85,817 infants were born alive,” Moe said. “[That means] that abortion survivors during the Roe era wouldn’t fit in the stadium where we held the Super Bowl this year.”

As for Kelly’s claims that federal law protects born-alive abortion survivors, Moe told CNA that no such federal law currently exists. 

“I would love for her to tell us where that is because it certainly has not been codified,” Moe said.  

As passed by the Kansas Legislature, the bill would have mandated that any baby born after a failed abortion should be afforded “the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care provider would render to any other child born alive.”

The bill would have also mandated that the surviving child be transported to a hospital for emergency care and that medical personnel who fail to render care or continue attempts to kill the born baby would be guilty of a felony.

Given that the GOP holds supermajorities in the Kansas Legislature, Republicans may be able to override Kelly’s veto.

“Just based on the bill passing on an 86-36 margin in the House to begin with and also with overwhelming support in the Senate, we expect that the Kansas Legislature will do the right thing here and make this the law in Kansas,” Kelsey Pritchard, director of state public affairs at Susan B. Anthony List, told CNA. 

Meanwhile, in Arizona, where Republicans hold only very slim majorities, Hobbs’ veto essentially spells doom for the born-alive bill.

Hobbs called the bill an attempt to interfere with reproductive rights and said her veto was making good on a campaign promise to oppose all pro-life legislation. 

“It’s simply not the state’s role to make such difficult medical decisions for patients. As a candidate, I promised to veto any bill that interferes with the reproductive rights of Arizonans. As governor, I intend to make good on that promise,” Hobbs said in an official statement

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“It’s just really disturbing for us to see [Democrats] and the abortion industry attempt to erase a whole group of people,” Pritchard said. 

“People have been quoted in articles about this bill saying that it’s fantasy, things don’t happen, … [meanwhile] the Abortion Survivors Network, located in the Kansas City area, is right there; hundreds of people are a part of that network and the way the abortion [industry] is trying to erase these individuals who persevere daily over the trauma, over the complications, over pain,” Pritchard said. “It’s just appalling and it’s really all in the name of trying to avoid bad PR so that their profit margins aren’t affected, and I think that we should all be concerned, as Americans, about how they’re trying to dehumanize this group of people.” 

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