Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

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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Leah Hickman

Leah is a reporter for WORLD Magazine and WORLD Digital. She is a World Journalism Institute and Hillsdale College graduate. Leah resides in Cleveland, Ohio. Follow her on Twitter @leahmhickman.

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    Posted: Mon, 08/03/2020 07:34 pm

    Oh, come on: The headline is so misleading! The GOP candidates are NOT "slinging mud"! The only ones slinging mud are (1) an "independent political action committee" whose action has been disavowed by the candidate they are supposedly supporting, and (2) a woman who supports a Democratic party candidate. She has accused the GOP candidate, an OB/GYN, who ended that woman's ectopic pregnancy to save her life; the woman says that the candidate is the same as an abortionist who ends the lives of babies in normal pregnancies. Please rewrite the headline to reflect the actual content of the article.

  • Steve Shive
    Posted: Tue, 08/04/2020 05:43 am

    I must add that this sentence also appears in this piece, "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.'”

    If not mudslinging, it does not show the Kobach campaign taking the high road over inaccurate reporting. On the other hand it certainly shows Kobach''s people throwing a low blow calculated to undermine their opponent's reputation.

    I think I see some mud flying here. 

  • CM
    Posted: Mon, 08/10/2020 08:13 am

    As a nurse for many years in the area of obstetrics, this is a non-starter.  This would be proper care for an ectopic pregnancy.  But, it may bring to light that after many years, being able to save the baby in these circumstances is an area of research and development that we should earnestly explore.