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State Rep. Carlin sticks to comment about pro-lifers

By Bill Felber

State Rep Sydney Carlin is standing by her description as “hypocrites” of pro-lifers who want to freeze admissions to the Kansas Neurological Institute.

The House Appropriations Committee, of which Carlin is a member, approved by a 14-6 vote Monday an amendment offered by State Rep. David Crum, an Augusta Republican, implementing a one-year admissions freeze to KNI. That Topeka-based institute is one of two state facilities dealing with the developmentally disabled. KNI has for the past several years been a target of largely conservative efforts to reduce state spending. In 2010 a committee recommended its closure, although the Legislature did not adopt that recommendation.

Carlin, one of the six Appropriation Committee members voting to oppose the freeze Monday, said those trying to close KNI were hypocritical because they were simultaneously trying to eliminate abortions in the state. She said abortion had become one of the principal reasons for the decline in KNI populations.

“The parents of these patients have chosen life, and we need to support that decision,” Carlin said.

The 23-member Appropriations Committee includes 17 Republicans — among them Richard Carlson of St. Marys and Sharon Schwartz of Washington — and six Democrats. Monday’s vote was conducted largely, although not exclusively, along party lines.

Carlin, a pro-choice Democrat, contended that the committee’s pro-life majority should put as much effort and resource into supporting developmentally disabled people — and the families that raise them — once those children are born as they put into preventing their abortion as fetuses. “Many people make that decision (to have special needs children) every day,” she said.

She said the increase in medically based abortion, driven by advances in diagnostic capability, was a central reason for a decline in the state’s population of developmentally disabled people.

She said she also objected to the inconvenience imposed upon family members if access to KNI is limited. In that event, residents would be placed at the state’s remaining facility, the state hospital in Parsons in far southeast Kansas. Carlin said that was too much of a drive for many Kansas families.”

“It is a seven to eight-hour drive for many western Kansas families to Parsons,” Carlin said. “I know families like to touch base with their children who are in those facilities.” Closing KNI, she said, would make it “very difficult for families.”

Carlin, who is expected to file for re-election to a sixth term from the Manhattan-based 66th House district this year, predicted that opponents would use her vote against her during the campaign.

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