TOPEKA, Kan. — Abortion-rights supporters are committing “a holocaust against fetuses,” a freshman Kansas Republican legislator said Monday as he spoke in support of a measure that would outlaw a procedure used in about 8 percent of abortions in the state.
Republican Rep. Dick Jones of Topeka made the comments during and after a hearing by the House Federal and State Affairs Committee on a bill that would prohibit using clamps, forceps or similar instruments on a fetus so to remove it from the womb in pieces. The measure would ban what doctors call the dilation and evacuation procedure, which is commonly used nationwide in second trimester abortions.
“If that child — and we were talking, just let’s say, move back 70 years — we’re talking about that child being Jewish and should it be aborted by being ripped out like that, I think we’d have a different conversation here,” Jones said.
Asked to clarify his comments after the hearing, Jones compared abortion-rights supporters to totalitarian leaders who kill thousands of people deemed to be “a drain” on state resources.
“The moment of conception when the finger of life is touched to that fetus, to that egg, it becomes a human being with all the inherent rights. If we look at this in any other fashion, we’re then saying that it’s all right to kill quadriplegics because they’re a burden on society,” Jones said.
Abortion-rights groups testified that the measure would increase women’s health risks and would open up doctors to malpractice suits if they avoided using the procedure in cases when it would be the safest option for terminating a pregnancy.
Julie Burkhart, CEO of abortion-rights group Trust Women Foundation, said that Jones is entitled to his opinion but said that “making part of health care illegal and inaccessible is not serving women at all.”
Other opponents testified that they believe the state has no right to intervene into a woman’s medical decisions. Mary Akerstrom of Topeka told the committee that she believes the bill’s supporters want more children to be born into poverty to provide a “cheap labor force of young people with desperate situations.”
“The true nature behind this conservative effort is simply to further divide the rich and from the rest of us, and deny any woman or man the same opportunities afforded to previous generations,” Akerstrom said.
Anti-abortion groups such as the National Right to Life Committee have said that the bill could be used as model legislation in other states to incrementally restrict abortion. Doctors that performed the procedure could face criminal and civil charges under the bill.
NICHOLAS CLAYTON, Associated Press