Clinic controversy

Regulations that could eliminate abortion services in Kansas are drawing new attention to the state.

July 1, 2011, 12:00 a.m. Updated July 5, 2011, 1:29 p.m.


Editor's note: This editorial did not appear in the print edition of the Journal-World because it became outdated by events that occurred shortly before its publication.

Six years after Kansas became known as the state that wouldn’t allow evolution to be taught in its schools, the state now is gaining national attention for its efforts to become the first state in the nation without a clinic licensed to perform abortions.

What was portrayed in the Kansas Legislature as a measure to protect the safety of women undergoing abortion procedures is being used as a tool to try to shut down clinics. Thirty-six pages of regulations concerning everything from the size of the janitor’s closet to the temperature range in procedure rooms were written in record time by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The rules were sent to the state’s three clinics only days before inspections to evaluate their compliance and about 10 days before the clinics could legally be closed for noncompliance.

Although various restrictions have been added over the years, abortion continues to be a legal procedure in the United States. However, Kansas legislators approved — and Gov. Sam Brownback signed — this law that now is being used to make the issue of legality of abortion moot by simply closing clinics and eliminating that choice for Kansas women who can’t, for financial or other reasons, go out of state for treatment.

The process by which this action has been undertaken makes questionable the stated interest in protecting the health of women patients. There are hundreds of clinics in Kansas performing a variety of outpatient surgical procedures. Is the state less concerned about the safety of patients at those clinics than of patients at three specific clinics in the Kansas City area? If safety is the issue, clinics should be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to the new regulations. (By comparison, if the state finds serious deficiencies while inspecting, for instance, a Kansas nursing home, the facility is given time to correct those deficiencies rather than being closed.)

At least one clinic that performs abortions has filed a lawsuit challenging the new licensing law and regulations, and it appears this battle now will be fought out in court using both clinic and taxpayer dollars.

The situation has drawn plenty of attention to Kansas but perhaps not the kind of attention many Kansans relish. Abortion continues to be a controversial and divisive issue across the nation, but the process and regulations being imposed in Kansas are stirring an additional controversy of their own.


Liberty_One 6 years, 9 months ago

What amuses me is that the very same people who complain about this abuse of government power are the ones who give the government this power in the first place. Do they really think it's any different when the government shuts down other businesses or operations in the name of the public's welfare? All the other times were out of genuine concern and this one time is just politics.

Yeah, right.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

Running a government in a fair and transparent way is a big challenge.

Survival of the human race without any government is a delusional fantasy.

Lawrence Morgan 6 years, 9 months ago

Kansas has made the New York Times and Yahoo news, even the BBC, on what is a very sad issue for this state and its Governor. Thank you for this excellent editorial.

Scott Drummond 6 years, 9 months ago

Small government, job creating right wingers at work again.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

" This is no different than any of the other government regulations "

Of course it's different. But to acknowledge that would mean that you couldn't assert your simplistic fantasy of a perfect libertarian world as some sort of unassailable fact.

Scott Drummond 6 years, 9 months ago

The difference being that this (and most right wing big government) is that it is not intended to help or protect anyone. Instead they are typically intended to impose religious beliefs or enrich corrupt partners. Government has been used to protect and help and in most instances that has come from the left.

overthemoon 6 years, 9 months ago

so you're good with pesticide and bacteria laden water? or food that may be tainted with botulism or salmonella? you think that without regulation those sweet nice folks at tyson or in china would take care to deliver food without toxins?

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

Is botulism or salmonella OK in abortion clinics?

Maddy Griffin 6 years, 9 months ago

It's been almost 40 years since abortion was legalized in this country. I can't believe Kansas has taken yet another step backwards. First evolution and now this. No wonder people only think of Dorothy and Toto, or the Phelps' clan when they think of Kansas. This would be embarrassing if it weren't so sad.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

It's because abortion has been legal for "only" 40 years. The other freedoms we have, those enumerated in the Constitution (speech, religion, etc.) have been around for more than two centuries. Limits have been placed on those over time. We've reviewed those limits, tweaked them, played with them, until we feel comfortable with those limits. It's now established that you can't yell fire in a crowded movie theater. That's a reasonable limit on the right of speech. What reasonable limits will be placed on abortions will be debated long after our grandchildren have grandchildren. Legalized abortion is in it's infancy (pun intended). The debate on abortion needs to happen just as the debate on all our other freedoms needs to continue (the Supreme Court just ruled on a freedom of speech case involving campaign financing). Not only does the debate need to happen, it's good that it happens. We can only hope that the debate is done with civility and respect.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

The post immediately below this one is ironic, given your last sentence.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 9 months ago

There was some wishful thinking on my part when I wrote that last sentence.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

In reality, abortion in the US was illegal for only 64 years of it's entire history. It was partially because of the history of legality, not illegality, of abortion in the US that SCOTUS decided for abortion in Roe V. Wade. And by the way, Gramaddy, a full third of the states in the US had decriminalized abortion prior to Roe V. Wade. It's been 42 years since the first state (Oregon) decriminalized it and made abortion in the US legal once again.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

How long has it been illegal to call someone a racial epithet before beating them up? A decade or two? Does the short life of the law make it any less valid?

Answer... yes. Hate crime laws make irrelevant words illegal and I'm not sure why the courts allow them. Someday the right case will hit the docket and the SCOTUS will invalidate hate crime laws as an affront to free expression.

The words used before, during and after an assault do not exacerbate the crime. Hate crime laws are unconstitutional kneejerks that came to pass because the federal government wanted to prosecute crimes that were already illegal via state statutes.

Also, I'm not aware of any states with hate crime laws, although it wouldn't surprise me if some of the more liberal states have them.

BigPrune 6 years, 9 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

The case you cite (and are only partially right on the details, which you sensationalize) took place over five years ago. The clinic was shut down under existing regulations and no other clinic has exhibited such gross misconduct since. Which begs the question just why the state thinks the clinics need further, micro managing regulation now. The current regulations cover all of three clinics and run to thirty six pages. Yet no other free standing surgical clinic in this state has to live up to such stringent and detailed regulations. I do have to give you credit that you are open about your anti-abortion political agenda and aren't trying to hide behind some false, made up "concern for women" excuse. However, I think you should know that it's precisely because these regulations are specific to abortion clinics and place a burden on them not placed on other surgical clinics that they will in all likelihood be struck down in Federal court as discriminatory and enacted for reasons other then stated.

overthemoon 6 years, 9 months ago

cait...he's got his story and he's gonna use it forever, whether its true or applicable. i think he can't help it. maybe more prunes would help.

BigPrune 6 years, 9 months ago

I love how the leftists can have their say, but a conservative gets their comments removed. This site blows.

I'm no longer going to participate in the JW forums. I'm tired of the liberal censorship.

deec 6 years, 9 months ago

Promise? Or is this just a R_T moment?

usnsnp 6 years, 9 months ago

If you look up history, Abortion was legal for most reasons in the United States until 1880. But I guess most people do not look at the history of this country or they try and re-write it to fit their beliefs.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Historical revision is the right's best friend. (Texas being a very good example.)

overthemoon 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, but.... "Abortion was not a crime and was quite common in the U.S. during the 1700s and early 1800s. During this period, primitive methods such as physically striking a pregnant woman's abdomen or introducing foreign objects into the uterus were used to induce abortion, frequently killing or injuring the woman "

This is from NOW.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Yes, and? In the 18th and 19th centuries more women died in childbirth from doctors than midwives due to the fact that doctors wore crusty dirty lab coats coated in old blood and spread childbed fever from woman to woman. Obviously, pregnancy and childbirth wasn't illegal either. Neither was dentistry where teeth were pulled with pliers and no anesthesia. So what's your point? That we've had huge medical advances in all fields in the last 250 years? No one will argue with that.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

Reasonable liberals are everywhere, you just fail to recognize them because they don't buy into your extreme libertarian economic philosophy.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Do you really think your views are "very common"?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

You think that Republicans share your views?

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

So politicians lieing is a fundamental part of the process? Wow...just wow.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Oh it's not the fact that politicians lie I find so earth shattering. It's the fact that you accept it as a fundamental part of the process of government.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

I think he doesn't accept it, and he's probably wondering why you do.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Republicans also refers to people who vote.

But, if you'd like, I can easily stop conversing with you.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

I asked, I didn't "imply" anything.

You are presenting your views as if they are common sense, moderate, and widely shared, while painting "liberals" as extreme.

I'm sorry if you don't like our conversations - there's a simple solution, of course.

But, the fact that I don't see things exactly as you do doesn't mean I haven't been listening, or don't understand the points you're trying to make.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

It was a question.

I am actually astonished that you think your views are commonly held, since I think they are quite uncommon.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Your views on almost all of these topics are more extreme than most.

For example, many people may believe that marijuana should be legalized, but you (and I, for that matter) believe that all drugs should be legal, which is a much less common view.

The same is true of the other items on your list as well - many people want to lower taxes and cut spending, but not anywhere near as much as you do.

Many people want to reduce our involvement in wars, but not cut the military anywhere close to your suggestions as well.

Legalizing gay marriage is perhaps the only item on the list in which you are in a majority, and it's a rather small one.

There's nothing wrong with holding views that are uncommon, but you should be aware that your libertarian views are a rather minority viewpoint.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

Liberty, if you believe the Constitution supports the notion that only those who can afford to send their children to school would be able to do so, that government shouldn't regulate any businesses, that there shouldn't be laws against child labor, or any of the other views you have mentioned over time around here, then yes, your views are both radical and extreme.

If the libertarian ideas weren't so radical and extreme, then why do you think the Libertarian Party is a non-player in American politics? They are called a "fringe" party for a very obvious reason. You just can't see the forest for the fringe.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Please give me an example of some business regulations that you would support.

Laura Wilson 6 years, 9 months ago

Amazingly good editorial. I've been reading this paper since the 1970s and at some point it became something more than just a mouthpiece for a very conservative agenda.

overthemoon 6 years, 9 months ago

Shocking, isn't it. Thing is, the 'conservative' has gone so far to the right that folks like Simons and Sen Jeff Sessions and a good number of former 'staunch conservatives' are finding themselves to be moderate since the 'middle' has moved so far to the right.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

And, interestingly, the label "moderate" has become just as much of a vilification and a "dirty name" to the ultra conservative as the label "liberal" has. The use of the acronym "RINO" is a case in point. It's bandied about by the far religious right (such as we currently have in the state house) in a supercilious manner to indicate that "I'm more conservative (and thus better) than you are." The real truth is that, taking into consideration the history of the Republican Party and the careers of such people as Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum, the real RINOs are the ones currently in power.

Liberty275 6 years, 9 months ago

And Zell Miller is the last surviving true democrat.

letsgiterdone 6 years, 9 months ago

I don't see this as a step backwards at all, but rather a much improved step forward!

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

Improvement toward what? Restricting abortion? Because the regulations that were already in place have already proven to have been highly effective.

weeslicket 6 years, 9 months ago

  1. yet another excellent editorial. (note to ljworld: some folks there know how to write. someone doesn't. more of the first and less of the second, please).
  2. tip-o'-th'-'at to cait48. impressive repeated smack-downs to the echo chamber. very nicely done.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 9 months ago

Good job, Dolph and your minions. A reasonable, thoughtful discussion of a difficult issue that has plagued mankind for centuries. Some of the earliest discussion of this topic that I've seen are in Egyptian papryi from thousands of years BCE. Abortion will never go away; the question is can we handle these tragic situations through good governance or will we turn them over to the Christiban trying to remake the country in their image. Again, good job.

George Lippencott 6 years, 9 months ago

It is interesting to me that our new elected leaders have singled out the abortion services providers for increased regulatory control and tighter scrutiny.

You would think that would look to the Nursing home Operators long before the abortion providers. We still have unacceptable levels of abuse and neglect in those faculties. Increased regulation and tighter scrutiny would seem warranted for that industry.

Could this all be political? Dear leaders please explain to me why the focus on privately funded abortions and not on the frail and helpless elderly in facilities funded by the state.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 9 months ago

The title should NOT be CLINIC CONTROVERSY, it should be GUBERNATORIAL CONTROVERSY reflecting the most failed Governor in Kansas History.

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