GOP candidates sling mud over abortion
Life | Kansas primary battle zeroes in on the pro-life argument over ectopic pregnancies
by Leah Hickman
Posted 8/03/20, 04:58 pm
An independent political action committee supporting a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kansas sent out mailers last week accusing the GOP rival, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall, of performing abortions. Marshall, an OB-GYN who represents western and central Kansas in Congress, has garnered the endorsements of pro-life groups such as Kansans for Life. He and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will face off in the state’s GOP primary on Tuesday, and the outcome could determine whether Republicans hold on to retiring Sen. Pat Roberts’ seat.
The mailers feature a social media post from a Kansas woman named Shonita Swank, who claimed Marshall performed an abortion on her. Kobach’s campaign said it had nothing to do with the mailers but added that Swank levied a “troubling accusation against Roger Marshall that needs to be answered.”
Both Marshall’s campaign and Kansans for Life have dismissed the mailers as a low-blow smear. According to Swank’s own account, Marshall treated her ectopic pregnancy. “I honestly don’t think there was anything he could have done to save the pregnancy,” she told The Kansas City Star. “I was bleeding too much.” The paper also reported that Swank did not have medical records on hand to verify her claims.
In an ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg implants outside of the mother’s uterus, usually in a fallopian tube. Since the fallopian tubes are not designed to sustain a pregnancy, they could rupture and cause internal bleeding and death for the mother if a doctor doesn’t remove the growing baby. Some advocates on both sides of the abortion debate point to such surgeries as an example of medically necessary abortions. Even Planned Parenthood’s website distinguishes between the two: “The medical procedures for abortions are not the same as the medical procedures for an ectopic pregnancy.”
Pro-life physicians echo that consensus. “In 93 percent of ectopic pregnancies, there is either no fetus at all or a fetus who has already died,” Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of the American Association of Pro-life OB-GYNs, told Live Action News. She added that in the cases where the baby survives despite the unsustainable conditions outside of the uterus, “there is less than a one-in-a-million chance that the mother will survive a tubal rupture and the fetus will continue to live.” For that reason, most pro-life doctors would surgically remove the baby to save the mother’s life. Unlike in abortion, the goal of the procedure is not to end the life of the baby.
Swank said she posted about the case because she thinks Marshall is showing hypocrisy on the issue of abortion. “I don’t appreciate … touting yourself as so pro-life but not giving the whole story that there are instances … where they do have to happen to save a life, and, unfortunately, the child cannot be saved,” she said.
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Kansans for Life noted that Swank supports state Sen. Barbara Bollier, the likely Democratic nominee who would run against either Kobach or Marshall. Republicans fear they will lose the Roberts’ seat if Kobach wins on Tuesday. Kobach lost the 2018 gubernatorial race in Kansas to Laura Kelly, a Democrat, and polls show he likely would not win in this year’s general election, either.
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