Kansas GOP leaders' fight over abortion, Medicaid escalates

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A political dispute between the Kansas Senate's top two Republicans over abortion and Medicaid expansion has escalated.

Senate President Susan Wagle, of Wichita, distributed an editorial to newspapers across the state this weekend defending her decision earlier this month to block a bipartisan Medicaid expansion plan drafted by Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, of Overland Park, and Demcoratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

Wagle moved after a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution failed in the Kansas House. She and other abortion opponents have vowed to block the expansion plan until the proposed amendment gets on the ballot for voters to consider. The measure would overturn a Kansas Supreme Court decision last year declaring access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state's Bill of Rights.

Wagle opposes Medicaid expansion and contends that with the high court decision, it would lead to taxpayer-funded abortions if the constitution is not changed.

“I needed to act,” she wrote in her editorial.

Her editorial was published online after Denning emailed his Senate colleagues Friday morning, saying there is no link between the two issues because the expansion bill says pregnant women's health coverage still would come under the existing Medicaid program. Denning supports the proposed anti-abortion amendment.