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Kan. gov. signs anti-abortion 'conscience' bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Gov. Sam Brownback has signed legislation giving more legal protection to Kansas health care providers who refuse to participate in abortions.

Brownback's office announced the signing Monday, although it took place last week. The governor is a strong abortion opponent and had been expected to sign the measure, which takes effect in July.

Kansas law already protects doctors and hospitals from being forced to participate in abortions. This year's measure extends the so-called "conscience" protection to other health care facilities.

The legislation also says no individuals are required to refer patients for abortion services, or to participate in administering any drug they believe terminates a pregnancy.

Abortion opponents say the measure simply updates existing law. Supporters of abortion rights predict it will restrict access to birth control.