Saturday Morning: What’s The Matter With Kansas?

Kansas Wheat Field

I spent my early childhood in Lawrence, Kansas while my dad was working on his Ph.D. at KU. We lived in the married student housing, which consisted of a group of wood frame former army barraks painted yellow. They called it “Sunnyside.” As a child I just loved the place. My mom remembers how the dust would blow up through the floorboards and the clothes would be dry before she even finished hanging them on the clothesline. I remember it as a kind of paradise where there were plenty of other kids around and vast fields nearby where we could run and play to our heart’s content. In those carefree days of the 1950s, parents didn’t feel they had to watch their children every minute. We didn’t need play dates, we just ran outdoors and joined the fun. We had a lot of freedom then.

I can still recall the simmering summer afternoons when all the adults were sheltering indoors and we wore ourselves out climbing the jungle gym and hanging upside down or wandering through the fields looking for arrowheads or relaxing in the shade of a giant oak tree where someone had nailed boards together to make a tree house. We’d climb up there and enjoy the view from on high.

welcome to kansas

One of my clearest memories is the joy I’d feel when, after driving up to North Dakota with my family to visit my grandparents we’d cross the Kansas border and the “Welcome to Kansas, the Sunflower State” sign, and I’d know I was back home at last. I’d survey the wheat fields waving in the breeze, the distant horizon, the endless highway, straight and flat, where if there was a speed limit sign all it was 100 mph.

Yes, I loved Kansas, as only a child can love a place. When we moved away to Ohio, I was broken-hearted and homesick and for a long time I begged my parents to take us back there.

I guess these memories are the reason it hurts my heart to hear about what is going on in Kansas today. I suppose it was always a conservative place, but today it has become cruel and mean-spirited. Look at the news from my old home state this morning.

Kansas passes anti-abortion bill declaring life begins ‘at fertilization.’ The Christian Science Monitor reports:

Kansas legislators gave final passage to a sweeping anti-abortion measure Friday night, sending Gov. Sam Brownback a bill that declares life begins “at fertilization” while blocking tax breaks for abortion providers and banning abortions performed solely because of the baby’s sex.

The House voted 90-30 for a compromise version of the bill reconciling differences between the two chambers, only hours after the Senate approved it, 28-10. The Republican governor is a strong abortion opponent, and supporters of the measure expect him to sign it into law so that the new restrictions take effect July 1.

In addition to the bans on tax breaks and sex-selection abortions, the bill prohibits abortion providers from being involved in public school sex education classes and spells out in more detail what information doctors must provide to patients seeking abortions.

Yes, the War on Women continues, and the Kansas legislature is apparently determined to beat out North Dakota as the most dangerous place for women to get pregnant.
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Science-Challenged Alabama Republican Explains Reproduction

Alabama State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin

Alabama State Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin

WARNING: Please don’t drink any liquids before reading this post.

Via Jezebel, the Montgomery Advertiser is reporting that the Alabama House of Representatives is scheduled to

take up abortion legislation Tuesday that supporters claim will protect patients in clinics and opponents claim will close down abortion providers.

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, R-Pelham, would require physicians at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at local hospitals; require clinics to follow ambulatory clinic building codes and make it a felony — punishable by up to 10 years in prison — for a nurse, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to dispense abortion-inducing medications.

You can read the text of the bill here. According to McClurkin the reasoning behind enforcing strict regulations on abortion is that the fetus is a large “organ.”

“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin said in an interview Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”

Funny how when you have other organs removed–like say your appendix–they don’t stay around expecting you to feed and clothe them and pay for their educations. Katie J.M. Baker of Jezebel writes:

My liver, heart, and skin are all very excited that we are now giving organs personhood rights, although the latter is slightly upset about losing out on its “largest organ in the human body” rep.

elephant coat hanger

Of course the sponsors of this and other such anti-abortion legislation claim that they’re just trying to make the procedure safer for women–never mind the fact that abortion is one of the safest medical procedures available. But it’s difficult to see how this part of the bill would accomplish that goal:

McClurkin’s bill includes a provision that requires physicians to ask patients younger than the age of 16, the name and age of the father of the child, and to report to law enforcement if the father is two years older than the minor.

If the patient is younger than 14, the clinic would be required to report the incident to the Department of Human Resources.

But then safety isn’t really the point, is it? The point is to eliminate abortions or at least make them as difficult as possible to obtain. That will lead to women seeking out dangerous illegal abortions or resorting to do-it-yourself measures.

This is an open thread.