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New Kansas abortion clinic will open to help meet demand from restrictive neighboring states

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New Kansas abortion clinic will open to help meet demand from restrictive neighboring states


A new abortion clinic will open in southeast Kansas this fall, bolstering the state’s role as a regional hub for reproductive health services whose neighbors have severely restricted access since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains announced Tuesday that Pittsburg, Kansas, will be home to a new facility providing abortion procedures and pills, as well as pregnancy services, contraception, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

After the Roe reversal, Kansas was the first state where voters weighed in on abortion at the ballot box, resoundingly rejecting a constitutional amendment that could have led to an abortion ban in August 2022.

Since then, the state — which prohibits abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy — has become a destination for people from more restrictive nearby states seeking abortion.

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In March 2023, 44% of abortion patients at Planned Parenthood clinics in Kansas traveled more than 250 miles (402 kilometers), compared with just 1% two years earlier, according to the organization. More than half of abortion patients are now from Texas, and some have come from as far as Florida in recent weeks, said Emily Wales, president and chief executive officer of Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.

“You walk across the state line from Missouri to Kansas and you automatically become a freer person who can actually take care of your medical needs in a different way,” Wales said. “We see it on the faces of patients who literally breathe easier when they get into Kansas.”

The abortion landscape across the U.S. has been in flux after the Supreme Court’s June 2022 decision that revoked a constitutional right to abortion nationwide.

New bans or restrictions have taken effect in most Republican-led states, including 14 where abortion is now outlawed in all stages of pregnancy, with some exceptions, and three more where it’s banned after about six weeks of pregnancy – often before women realize they’re pregnant.

For people from those states seeking to end their pregnancies, the main options are either getting abortion pills via telehealth or underground networks, or traveling out of state for abortion pills or procedures.

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There were roughly as many in-state residents as out-of-state residents seeking abortions in Kansas in the years before the Supreme Court decision, according to statistics reported to and published by the state’s health department. That’s largely because Kansas City, Kansas, is easily accessible from Missouri, which historically has been limited in providers of abortion services.

In 2022, the figure for out-of-state residents given consent forms more than doubled to 8,475, state data shows.

Pittsburg, Kansas, is more than 100 miles (161 kilometers) south of Kansas City, and 150 miles (241 kilometers) east of Wichita. That means the new clinic location will be hours closer to patients who may be traveling from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma — and even as far as Louisiana or Texas — where the procedure is restricted.

Pittsburg itself has a dearth of providers for contraception and other sexual health services, Wales said, but it has the “added benefit of being so closely located to neighboring states.” The Pittsburg facility will later provide gender-affirming services as well.

Clinics are shifting to accommodate out-of-state demand elsewhere, too. New Mexico has pledged $10 million to a new facility in Las Cruces, near the Texas border; a clinic opened last year in Western Maryland, a few miles from West Virginia; and two new clinics have opened in the southern Illinois city of Carbondale.

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Ingrid Duran, director of state legislation for National Right to Life, said it’s not surprising to see new clinics pop up to meet out-of-state demand because of the financial opportunity for providers, she said.

“And it’s not surprising to know that people who want to get abortions would travel out of the state if it’s not being offered there,” she said. She said states should also offer resources that “hopefully persuade abortion-minded women to choose something different.”

Caitlin Myers, an economics professor at Middlebury College who researches abortion policies, said she’s counted 78 abortion facilities opening across the U.S. between May 1, 2022, and April 1 of this year. That number includes 10 moved from another location in the same state, seven that moved across state lines and 61 new providers.

The growth in providers situated near state lines has generated new efforts from those opposed to abortion to restrict the practice, calling it “abortion trafficking.”

A Texas man is trying to force his former partner to say who helped her obtain an out-of-state abortion in a step toward civil enforcement of the Texas abortion ban.

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Lawmakers in at least two states have taken aim at people who help minors access abortion without parental consent. Tennessee legislators last month passed a bill that would make it illegal to help minors obtain abortions without parental consent; Republican Gov. Bill Lee has not yet taken action on it. Idaho adopted a similar law last year, though a federal judge has blocked enforcement while its constitutionality is questioned.

Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly is a strong supporter of abortion rights, but the GOP-controlled Legislature has veto-proof majorities and strong contingents opposed to abortion.

This year, the Legislature passed bills — and later overrode Kelly’s vetoes — for statutes that will require abortion providers to ask patients why they are terminating their pregnancies and report the answers to the state, and that will make it a specific crime to coerce someone into having an abortion.

___

Fingerhut reported from Oakland, New Jersey, and Mulvihill reported from Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

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Kansas

At least 18 dead across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas in severe storms

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At least 18 dead across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas in severe storms


Severe storms over the weekend led to the deaths of at least 18 people across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas, according to information from the Associated Press and updated information from Arkansas late Sunday night.

Across the five states affected, 25 tornadoes were reported, according to officials.

Texas hit hard

In Texas, seven people died, and more than one hundred were injured as the severe weather swept through the state, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference on Sunday evening.

Abbott said 106 counties in Texas were under disaster declarations.

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More than 200 homes or structures were destroyed and another 120 damaged, Texas officials said Sunday, following tornado activity that was preliminarily an EF2 with 125 mph winds.

Abbott mourned those who were killed in the storms, saying, “There’s only one thing that cannot be rebuilt, and that’s a loss of life — That’s why we always stress to everybody, whatever you do in any type of storm, put life first.”

A 2-year-old and a 5-year-old from the same family were killed in Cooke County, Texas, officials said. The children were among the seven people who were killed in the area, which is north of Dallas, the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office told The Associated Press on Sunday.

The tornado that went through Cooke County was preliminarily rated an EF-2 with winds up to 135 mph.

The storm tore through a roadside travel center near Valley View, Texas, before continuing through a community of manufactured homes, according to Cooke County, Texas, Sheriff Ray Sappington.

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More than 60 people were injured, he told Dallas-Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA.

Most of those fatalities occurred at the nearby FRF Estates in Valley View, a community of manufactured homes about 60 miles northwest of Dallas, according to Sappington.

He said emergency response crews were combing the development for survivors Sunday morning amid “major damage.”

Sappington said another hard-hit area was the Gateway AP Travel Center in Valley View, where many people pulled off the road to seek shelter in the parking lot or in the truck stop’s restrooms. Sappington said 60 to 80 people were injured at the facility.

“The storm has caused significant damage to numerous homes and businesses, including the Gateway AP Travel Center, which received major damage,” the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Sunday morning. “Emergency services are actively searching the debris for missing persons, and there have been numerous injuries of varying degrees reported.”

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Sappington warned people to stay away from the storm-damaged areas as emergency crews searched for survives and cleared roads of debris.

“It would really help if people just stayed away right now, gave us a few hours to get our search and rescue done,” Sappington said. “I know some people were out of the area and trying to get back, but it’s dangerous out there. Power lines are down. There have been reports of gas leaks. It’s just dangerous right now. Just give us some time to do what we need to do. We’re trying to still rescue people. The best thing people can do right now is give us a little time.”

Meanwhile, a landslide closed both directions of Highway 340 in Bella Vista, Texas, according to the Bella Vista Police Department. The highway was closed after the ground underneath the roadway was washed out by heavy rains and “compromised the road surface,” police said.

2 killed in Arkansas, officials say

Arkansas officials said at least two people were killed when a possible tornado hit early Sunday morning. One person was found dead in Benton County in the northwest part of the state, and a 26-year-old woman was discovered dead outside a destroyed home in Olvey in Boone County, officials said.

In addition to the two deaths, several people were injured in Benton County, Barry Moehring, a Benton County judge, said during a news conference.

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At least one possible tornado ripped through the Benton County town of Decatur and two others appeared to touch down near Beaver Lake, Moehring said.

Numerous trees and powerlines were knocked down in the storm and powerful straight-line winds also caused significant damage in Bentonville, where part of the courthouse was destroyed, Moehring said.

He said emergency crews were responding to reports of people trapped in the rubble.

Police in Rogers, Arkansas, also in Benton County, posted photos Sunday on Facebook showing widespread damage in downtown Rogers. The Rogers Police Department said emergency teams were searching for survivors and assessing the damage.

“All our major streets have trees or are closed, and we are still responding and trying to get to calls. Too many cars on the streets hamper our response,” the Rogers Police Department said in a Facebook post asking people not to drive around barricades.

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2 deaths in Oklahoma

At least two people were killed when a possible tornado hit Pryor, Oklahoma, about 45 miles east of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner told Tulsa ABC affiliate KTUL.

Latest forecasts

The threat of more severe weather on Sunday shifted east over parts of the Mississippi and Ohio River valley, where multiple rounds of strong storms are possible.

The National Weather Service issued tornado watches through 3 p.m. CT on Sunday for parts of central Kentucky — including the cities of Louisville and Bowling Green — and western and middle Tennessee, including Nashville and Knoxville.

Severe storms are forecast to hit a wide swath of the Great Plains on Sunday night and move into Iowa, where residents are still cleaning up from a series of deadly hurricanes that struck near Des Moines on Tuesday night, leveling half of the town of Greenfield and killing four people, officials said.

The most intense storms are expected across parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, northern Tennessee and the southwestern edge of Ohio, where there is an enhanced risk of damaging winds, hail and tornadoes.

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In addition to the severe thunderstorm and tornado threats, potentially dangerous flash flooding is forecast from Sunday afternoon and into Sunday night from southern Missouri to much of Kentucky.

Strong, slow-moving thunderstorms are expected Sunday afternoon and could produce torrential rain and flash flooding in several states, including Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky. The greatest threat of flooding is expected to occur in southern Illinois around Carbondale.

Copyright © 2024 ABC News Internet Ventures.



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Kansas Governor orders flags to fly at half-staff for Memorial Day

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Kansas Governor orders flags to fly at half-staff for Memorial Day


TOPEKA, Kan. (KCTV) – All U.S. flags on Kansas soil have been ordered to fly at half-staff on Monday in honor of Memorial Day by the Governor.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced on Friday, May 24, that she has ordered flags throughout the State of Kansas to be flown at half-staff from sunrise until noon on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27.

“The brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms represent the best of Kansas and our nation,” Gov. Kelly said. “On Memorial Day and every day, we owe them our deepest gratitude for their service.”

The order stands for all U.S. flags on state-owned soil.

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Kansas would benefit by returning to Trump-era funding of election infrastructure needs

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Kansas would benefit by returning to Trump-era funding of election infrastructure needs


President Joe Biden has so frequently claimed that the return of former President Donald Trump represents an existential threat to democracy that it has become practically his only argument for voters to return him to office.

But a closer examination of how each President actually supported our election system during their respective terms calls this argument into serious question.

During President Trump’s administration, Congress allocated anywhere from $380 million (in FY2018) to $425 million (in FY2020) to meet America’s election infrastructure needs through Help America Vote Act (HAVA) Election Security Grants. Fast forward to the Biden administration, and that level of commitment has dropped precipitously to just $75 million in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

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And this year, the most recent, last-minute budget bill passed by Congress included only $55 million for election security.

But President Biden hasn’t just woefully underfunded programs designed to strengthen the states’ election systems. He has also acted to subvert the entire election system. On March 7, 2021, President Joe Biden directed the agencies of his administration to use federal funds appropriated by Congress for the operation of their agencies to instead “promote voter registration and voter participation.”

And, of course, just coincidentally, that undue influence has been felt disproportionately among demographics that favor President Biden’s reelection in 2024.

The effects of this executive order have already been felt right here in Kansas.

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According to left-wing nonprofit organization Vot-ER’s CEO Krista Postai, federal dollars funneled through her organization to FQHCs in southeast Kansas that were used to send 65,000 text messages to influence the 2022 Value Them Both amendment referendum. She proudly concluded in a webinar about their efforts, “As you can see, we had an impact.”

As a Kansas state representative, chair of the House Committee on Elections, and a professor of homeland security at Wichita State University, I have grave concerns about the safety and security challenges facing our dedicated election officials and poll workers.

Particularly in our many rural regions and communities, election offices are lacking some of the most basic resources they need, not only to prepare for and counter the security threats they face but to simply manage the election process efficiently and effectively.

I am even more concerned by President Joe Biden’s unconstitutional effort to divert funds appropriated by Congress to fund healthcare, food benefits and other social programs to put his thumb on the scale and influence the 2024 presidential election.

My concerns only grew last month when the bill we passed to try to stop this inappropriate activity in Kansas, House Bill 2618, was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

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Election security is national security. The US Department of Homeland Security designated America’s election infrastructure as “critical infrastructure” in 2017. If we expect our hardworking election officers and workers to do their jobs and keep our elections safe and secure, then we need to make sure they have all the tools and resources necessary to do so.

The paltry $55 million that Congress allocated for election security in fiscal 2024, approximately $1 million to each state, is not enough. The way to ensure our election system remains secure is to return to Trump-era funding levels, authorized through the people’s representatives in Congress, and stop the subversion of our electoral processes by an extra-constitutional misappropriation of funds designed to favor one party.

Pat Proctor, R-Leavenworth, was elected to the Kansas House in 2020, where he represents the 41st District as the chairman of the House Elections Committee.



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