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Health care providers in Kansas will now face criminal penalties over the care they provide to a baby delivered during an abortion procedure, after Kansas Republicans and a few Democrats voted to override the veto of Gov. Laura Kelly (D) on Wednesday.
The new law, which will take effect in July, requires providers to “exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence” when caring for an infant delivered during an abortion as a provider would during any other live birth. Violation of the law will be punishable by a felony.
It is the first anti-abortion bill in the state since Kansas voters rejected an amendment last year, which would have banned the procedure in the state, by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent. Yet anti-abortion groups advocated for this bill as a reasonable check on abortion rights in the state.
But abortion rights groups and providers have knocked so-called “born alive” bills, arguing they are simply messaging legislation that seeks to further demonize the practice of abortion. They point to the fact that medical professionals already are obligated to provide care to infants.
The Kansas House voted 87-37 to override the veto, while the Senate voted by a margin of 31-9.
Because Kansas already bans most abortions past 22 weeks, abortion proponents say the new law will likely be mostly symbolic, with providers saying the type of abortion the law seeks to cover rarely ever happens in the state.
The move by GOP lawmakers in Kansas to overturn Kelly’s veto comes as a wave of Republican-led states have started to place restrictions on abortions, following the fall of Roe v. Wade last year.