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Kansas Senate moves to ban tax funding of aborted tissue, embryo-destructive research

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TOPEKA, Kansas, March 27, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Kansas may soon ban taxpayer dollars from being spent on research using aborted fetal tissue, according to language successfully added to the latest budget bill.

The Lawrence Journal-World reported that on Tuesday night state senators gave first-round approval to SB 269, which makes modifications to the budget for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Final approval of the budget is expected in May, after the release of updated revenue estimates in mid-April. The bill passed 20-15, with five senators absent.

Before the vote, Republican Sen. Steve Fitzgerald successfully added language barring state agencies from using public funds on research using fetal tissue obtained from abortions, as well as on research that involves the destruction of human embryos. It would not apply to fetal tissue obtained from miscarriages.

The Topeka Capital-Journal added that Tuesday evening saw some heated floor debate (which can be viewed here) over the amendment.

Sen. Barbara Bollier, a Republican who went on to vote against the bill, asked whether existing law already had such a ban. Fitzgerald referred the question to Republican Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, who explained that Kansas currently allows both fetal-tissue research and embryo-destructive research, though there is a $25 limit on compensation for the use of fetal tissue. “Which is really too bad,” she added, “because we need to be a state that protects human life at its most vulnerable.”

Neither specified whether such research was currently taking place in Kansas. But after Planned Parenthood’s sale of body parts from aborted babies was revealed in 2015, the Associated Press reported that the state health department had not received any reports on the transfer of fetal tissue from state abortion facilities in 15 years. “I don’t know how you would find out if you’re the state unless you had surprise and frequent inspections and you were looking specifically for it,” Kansas for Life executive director Mary Kay Culp said at the time.

Bollier said she wasn’t “comfortable” with the amendment’s justification of protecting life because abortion was legal.

Fitzgerald responded by calling experimentation of human beings “abhorrent” and “discredited,” drawing parallels to Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. “Are we opposed to medical research? No,” he clarified. “Are we opposed to killing humans in order to further that research? Exactly.”   

Bollier declared that she took “great offense” at the comparison. “The difference is, that was illegal, those were human beings,” whereas the current amendment concerned “tissue.” While granting there was disagreement over when life begins, she declared that ultimately, according to Kansas law, “there is no definition of human life beginning at conception.” But in 2013 Kansas enacted legislation declaring that life begins at fertilization, a finding confirmed by settled biological criteria.

Ultimately, Bollier said she opposed the amendment because it prevented mothers forced to abort for medical complications from choosing what to do with the remains of wanted babies.

“It’s interesting that it’s just tissue when we don’t want it, but it’s a baby when we do, all in the same sentence,” Fitzgerald replied. He also doubled down on the Holocaust comparison, equating Nazis’ use of euphemisms such as “untermensch” (less than human) with pro-abortion rhetoric claiming fetuses are “not really human.”

Soon after the vote, Planned Parenthood’s Great Plains Kansas advocacy arm took to Twitter to blast Fitzgerald for “inflammatory language” and claim the amendment “adds to the shame and stigmatization of safe, legal abortion.”

“I find it amazing that we still have so many legislators that don't understand the sanctity of human life,” the senator responded in a press release. “The shame is on the nation’s largest abortion provider and its minions. Abortion is NEVER safe for the child!”

Final Senate approval of the budget bill is expected next Wednesday. Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer is pro-life and likely to support the amendment.

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