After a weekend of delays, former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius’ nomination for the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Obama was confirmed Tuesday.
But last Thursday, in one of her final acts as governor of Kansas, Sebelius vetoed House Substitute for Senate Bill 389, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act.
Originally passed through the Kansas Senate with fewer votes than would be required to override a governor’s veto, the bill would have created tighter restrictions on late-term abortions and provided legal avenues for patients and relatives of patients to bring civil suits against doctors who provided late-term abortions in violation of Kansas law.
The text of the bill requires that women who are about to receive a late-term receive documentation stating the reasons for the abortion and the physician’s approval, and states among other things that “such documentation… shall be provided to the pregnant woman no less than 30 minutes before the abortion is initiated.”
The bill also states that “a cause of action for injunctive relief may be maintained against anyone… who is about to perform an act in violation of this section.”
In a statement last Thursday, Sebelius cited concerns that this portion of the bill could be used to intimidate women who are about to receive an abortion, or to create situations where a woman could be kept from receiving an abortion by a relative or spouse.
But for some Emporia State students, abortion is less about legislation and more about personal morality.
“As a Catholic, I really don’t believe abortion is right,” said Melissa Beck, graduate student in library science. “I really think there probably should be restrictions on late-term abortions, because you’re really ending a life there.”
In cases where the mother’s life is at risk, or when the pregnancy results from a rape, the lines of morality become more blurred, Beck said.
“Usually a woman’s body is pretty good at knowing when a baby is a life-threatening danger, and that’s when a miscarriage will take care of it,” Beck said. “But I guess it would be acceptable to have an abortion if the mother’s life is in danger, and if you get raped, well, who wants that reminder for nine months?”
Other students said they see even fewer circumstances in which an abortion is acceptable.
“My pro-life feelings are really strict, actually,” said Sergio Segura, freshman pre-optometry major. “I just don’t think there’s any excuse for taking the life of innocent kids who have no say in the decision like that, there’s really no circumstances in which a person should be allowed to end an innocent life.”
Segura also said that legislation on abortion should be a state- or locally-decided issue and that the federal government should have no say in the matter.
“I really don’t like the idea of the federal government having a say in the issue,” Segura said. “Each state should be allowed to voice its own decision.”
Other students said they see abortion as an issue of privacy and believe that no government prerogative can match the right of a woman to choose whether or not to keep a pregnancy.
“I hate when people try to force their beliefs on others with regards to abortion,” said Ashley Gillett, freshman secondary English education major. “It is and should be a matter of choice, and no person should hold that power over another one.”
Gillett also said that part of that right to choose includes the right of each state to decide for itself what legislation should exist regarding abortion laws.
Sebelius’ nomination to the cabinet position had been delayed from last Thursday in part because of concerns over campaign contributions she had received from Kansas abortion clinic director George Tiller.