"The human is a magnificent piece of work at all stages of development, wondrous in every regard, from the microscopic until full development," said Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a Leavenworth Republican who supported the bill.
Abortion opponents argue the full measure lessens the state's entanglement with terminating pregnancies, but abortion-rights advocates say it threatens access to abortion services.
The declaration that life begins at fertilization is embodied in "personhood" measures in other states. Such measures are aimed at revising their constitutions to ban all abortions, and none have been enacted, though North Dakota voters will have one on the ballot in 2014.
But Kansas lawmakers aren't trying to change the state constitution, and the measure notes that any rights suggested by the language are limited by decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. It declared in its historic Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 that women have a right to obtain abortions in some circumstances, and has upheld that decision while allowing increasing restrictions by states.
Sen. David Haley, a Kansas Democrat who opposed the bill, zeroed in on the statement, saying that supporters of the bill were pursuing a "Taliban-esque" course of letting religious views dictate policy limiting women's ability to make decisions about health care and whether they'll have children.
And in the House, Rep. John Wilson, a Lawrence Democrat, complained that the bill was "about politics, not medicine."