Friday, March 07, 2008

All Hail the Prince

If you live in Kansas, even better, if you’ve ever sought reproductive health care services in Kansas, your medical records are likely the most talked about thing in the state Legislature. They just can’t get enough.

This tale of privacy violation goes back a few years, clear back to the election of Attorney General Phill Kline in 2002. It was clear from the beginning that Kline had a gift for sniffing out imaginary crime. He was convinced that if he could just rifle through the medical records of women who’d had abortions, surely he’d find some malfeasance to unearth: statutory rape, coercion, illegal late-term abortions. And thus began Kline’s crusade. The subpoenas went out, the records were confiscated and Kline, in all his noise and fury, never suspected that people may not agree with what he was doing. It never occurred to him that regardless of the personal views people had about abortion, hardly anyone thought he was justified in prying into private medical records. He was summoned a fairly loud and abrupt wake up call on Election Day 2006 when he was booted out office in what can only be called a mandate.

Kansans breathed a sigh of relief as we watched Phill and his clinic x-ray specs head out the door (only to have him set up shop as the Johnson County DA, but that’s another blog for another day.) Anyway, little did we know what was brewing in the Kansas state Legislature. The Legislature is full of busy bodies; legislators who can’t stop thinking, talking or writing bills about abortion or really anything that has anything to do with any action occurring below the belt. But the busy-bodies cannot function as an indefinable mass, they need a leader. Unfortunately for anyone who values privacy, they’ve crowned the new heir since Phill Kline’s departure. We have known thee Prince Panty-Sniffer, and thy name is Rep. Lance Kinzer!

Kinzer has quickly emerged as the new anti-choice pied piper. This year, the prince squatted down and dropped what we like to call the “Trail-Mix” abortion bill. There’s a little something for everyone in this 18-page whopper. One needs a fork lift to haul it around and the stamina of a marathoner to read the whole thing in a single sitting. The provisions in this bill make it sound as if Kinzer would only be mollified if he were allowed to personally supervise every abortion in the state of Kansas. Here are just a few choice nuggets from the 17 provisions:

If your second cousin twice removed feels that you were coerced into an abortion, she can take it upon herself to sue the doctor who performed the procedure on your behalf, sweet of her, isn’t it?

It gets better, if a local DA (say a de-throned AG withering away in Johnson County) wants access to a local clinic’s records, well heck, all he has to do is ask. For that matter if a group of 10 or more interested parties feel that they just aren’t getting enough data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, they can compel the agency to hand over more information. Hm, I wonder who that one is for? Looks like Troy Newman at Operation Rescue and his goonies could get some serious jollies off with that particular provision.

But wait, there’s still more! Because women are too mentally feeble to know what they’re doing, great big signs need to be posted in every reproductive health care facility alerting them to the fact that they should feel free to leave the building that they’ve already entered of their own volition and free will. Obviously they’re not smart enough to act on changing their minds without a reminder from our friendly legislature. Following that logic, someone should post similar signs at JC Penny whenever they have a door buster sale for those who feel that they can’t leave the store until they’ve purchased a couple armfuls of merchandise at 40% off. “You don’t have to buy the pencil skirt! You can walk away!” Think of how many cases of buyer’s remorse could be prevented!

The thing goes on and on and on this way. If we gave you a snarky bit about every provision, this blog would end up roughly the same length as Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot” and just as appropriately named.

Will the bill go anywhere? That remains to be seen. The legislature is still in session and really, if Dorothy can click her heels to come home, then just about anything is possible in Kansas.

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