Archive for Friday, July 1, 2011

Federal judge blocks Kansas licensing rules for abortion clinics

July 1, 2011, 5:10 p.m. Updated July 2, 2011, 1:22 a.m.


— A federal judge temporarily blocked Kansas from enforcing new abortion regulations Friday, in a ruling that suggested the state will be challenged to justify its demand that three abortion providers comply with the rules within two weeks of receiving them.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia’s injunction will remain in effect until a trial is held in a lawsuit against the state’s new licensing process and accompanying health department regulations, which were to have taken effect Friday. The lawsuit involves two providers that wouldn’t have been able to continue terminating pregnancies.

The new law requires hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices to obtain an annual license from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to perform more than five non-emergency abortions in a month. The regulations tell abortion providers what drugs and equipment they must stock and, among other things, establish minimum sizes and acceptable temperatures for procedure and recovery rooms.

Supporters of the law and the regulations believe they’ll protect patients from substandard care. But abortion rights supporters see them as deliberately burdensome, designed to prevent clinics and doctor’s offices from offering abortions. They also didn’t trust the licensing process because Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is a strong abortion opponent, and anti-abortion groups pushed its passage in the GOP-controlled Legislature.

Murguia said evidence presented during a hearing and in court documents showed the providers would “suffer irreparable harm” through the loss of business and patients, and that at least two women currently seeking abortions would be harmed by not being able to go to the provider of their choice. He even questioned whether the state had any evidence at all that could show that the new guidelines were “rationally related” to protecting patients.

He appeared particularly critical of the speed with which the state imposed the rules, saying there’s no evidence that the state provided “meaningful notice” of the new requirements. The providers didn’t receive an electronic copy of the latest version of the guidelines until June 17 and were told the requirements in them wouldn’t be waived.

“The court believes the public interest is best served in preserving the status quo pending the resolution of this case,” Murguia said from the bench after a hearing in Kansas City, Kan.

Secretary of Health and Environment Robert Moser, a defendant in the lawsuit, said the department will respect the ruling but called it “narrowly tailored” and promised the department would proceed with its plan to issue yet another version of the rules this fall. Assistant Attorney General Steve Fabert, who argued the state’s case, declined to comment about the ruling.

During the hearing, Fabert dismissed the providers’ complaints about the time they were given to conform to the new rules, saying they simply wanted to avoid new regulations. Before imposing the rules, the department didn’t take public comments, but it plans to do so in September before producing a new version.

“They do not want to comply with the statute — ever,” he said. “We could have given them nine months, and their objections would have been identical.”

But Murguia said there’s a substantial likelihood that the abortion providers would prevail at trial on their claim that the state violated their right to due legal process.

Among other things, the new regulations would require abortions to be performed in rooms with at least 150 sq. feet of space, excluding fixed cabinets, and that are kept at between 68 and 73 degrees. Each procedure room also must have its own janitor’s closet with at least 50 sq. feet. Also, any patient must remain in a recovery room for at least two hours.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this week by Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, who perform abortions and provide other services at the Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb. A second clinic, Aid for Women in Kansas City, was allowed to join the lawsuit. Neither received an abortion license.

The state’s third abortion provider, a Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri clinic in Overland Park, received a license Thursday, and the attorney general’s office contends that the license showed the state isn’t seeking to shut down abortion providers. But Murguia said the other providers had presented evidence that having only one clinic or office performing abortions wouldn’t meet the needs of patients.

Nauser called the ruling “amazing,” and afterward, Hodes said, “All we are going to do is take care of women right now.”

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which represented Hodes and Nauser, noted that Murguia’s ruling came a day after a federal judge in South Dakota blocked enforcement of that state’s new law requiring women seeking abortions to wait three days and undergo counseling designed to discourage them from going through the procedure.

“It is a real pushback on these burdensome unnecessary laws that have been overreaching in an attempt to shut down abortion providers across the country,” Northup said.

The licensing law was part of a wave of anti-abortion measures enacted this year in Kansas and other states with new Republican governors or GOP-dominated legislatures. Utah and Virginia also are imposing new regulations on abortion providers, but their rules aren’t expected to take effect until next year.

During the hearing, Fabert said the state was trying to make its regulation of the clinics consistent. The Planned Parenthood clinic already is regulated by the department as an ambulatory surgical center, but the other providers fell under less detailed rules for clinics and offices performing surgical procedures, imposed by the state board that licenses doctors.

“We are sincere in our desire to do what we can as far as improving the safety and comprehensiveness of the information women receive ahead of time, said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life.


Maddy Griffin 6 years, 11 months ago

This could go as far as the Supreme Court. Nice job Brownie!

overthemoon 6 years, 11 months ago

Which would be his intent...with the makeup of the current court, R v W would be gone in a DC minute.

Beth Bird 6 years, 11 months ago

You are correct - It is such crap!! The ideology of one should not dictate choices to the rest.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 11 months ago

The boot stompers lose the first round. You'd have to be stupid to not see what they were doing.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 11 months ago

The boot stompers lose the first round. You'd have to be stupid to not see what they were doing.

kantubek 6 years, 11 months ago

Waiting for dead rats in the halls and bloody refrigerators.

Jan Rolls 6 years, 11 months ago

The boot stompers lose the first round. You'd have to be stupid to not see what they were doing.

Olympics 6 years, 11 months ago

Jobs, debt = clearly #1 priorities....AFTER we finish attacking women's rights and searching for non-existent voter fraud (ok, you might find 10 bad votes in the 7th most Republican state in the country).

The lesson...don't let religious fundamentalists run things.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Jobs maybe. Debt? Hmmm...somewhere next to climate change and cancer research - important but not job #1.

No jobs, no nothing.

Bob_Keeshan 6 years, 11 months ago

"The Kansas attorney general's office argued that the Planned Parenthood license disproved claims by abortion-rights advocates that the state's new rules were designed to cut off access to abortion rather than protect patients."

This would be the license that the state denied until it realized it could use it as an argument in court.

overthemoon 6 years, 11 months ago

Yep...but they are not going to be able to change the extraordinary timetable from sending out regulations to inspections to license approval or rejection. This is going to end up like the Wisconsin labor law debacle...the courts will just say 'do it again and do it right and all is good."

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

No, not necessarily. By the time the court is ready to hear the case the issue will then be: you've had X days, are you now in compliance? (Followed by: is compliance a reasonable exercise of state authority, is there an undue restriction on people's rights?)

So, timetable important to injunction, not important to the merits.

Kirk Larson 6 years, 11 months ago

They went ahead and gave Planned Parenthood their license, I'm sure, because there are already plans in the works for a back handed rescinding of Planned Parenthood funding. So then the license won't matter.

overthemoon 6 years, 11 months ago

Good...more time to put Brownback and his thugs under the spot light.

notanota 6 years, 11 months ago

It's a stupid spotlight, because he'll get high-fives from social conservatives. Put him under the spotlight for killing jobs, gutting funding, destroying our state's future, and handing plum jobs to his cronies from Koch.

yourworstnightmare 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, I was wondering why Brownback allowed one clinic to stay open after first decreeing that it would be closed.

They must have seen this ruling coming and wanted an argument in court, as BK has said above.

Shameful, shameless politics on the part of Brownback and his religious right, anti-abortion group.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

Like they give a damn. They know they have this state by the short hairs. I'm sure Brownie is celebrating tonight because he just jockeyed himself into position to take on the "Big One" and with the current makeup of the court Roe V. Wade will go down like the Titanic.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm uncertain what would interest the SC in taking on this case. I'm nearly positive that there's no interest at all in overturning Roe, if only because of the massive damage that would do so whole sections of the law that have nothing to do with abortion. Roe and subsequent cases are built on a larger ediface of privacy law. Sure, the likes of Scalia have an agenda, and Thomas (assuming he's not impeached!) will be happy to go along. But Kennedy or Roberts aren't going down that path. The only example of such a rare reversal we've seen in this area was the "sodomy" case from Texas, where the SC directly repudiated its decision a few decades earlier. The key there was that the earlier decision didn't fit in with the mass of other privacy cases (raw bias against gays while not daring to limit hetero privacy). Why would the court reintroduce a contradiction in this area or trying to revolutionize something that's guaranteed to offend most Americans (the gov't is free to involve itself in intimate personal decisionmaking)?

Besides, the political undoing of Roe would be quite unfavorable for the likes of Brownback. He's able to attract many votes on other issues with voters confident that he can't actually do much to undermine (their own) privacy. Change that fact and suddenly voters re-prioritize the whole "big government" thing in a different way, whether to boost the fortunes of the Republican wing of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, and to the detriment of the Mad Tea Hatters.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

I can only hope that you are right. However, I remain skeptical. If the court were to decide that human life begins at conception, the over riding balance of rights could go to the fetus as a reason for trumping the right to privacy and do so without disturbing any other part of the body of laws regarding privacy that didn't involve pregnancy. As for Brownback, he has repeatedly stated that anti-abortionism isn't just a public stance but a personal one as well. However much it would kill him politically, I think if he saw a chance to overturn Roe he would take it in a New York minute. Perhaps, to him, succeeding in doing so would be the crowning achievement of his political career, even worth giving up Presidential aspirations. Brownback has done a lot I've considered political suicide, the huge cuts in social programs for the disabled among them. He's doing these things at the bidding of his handlers in return for the full power to fight abortion. Bottom line, he will deliver the money to them if they deliver the power to him to do this. Face it, abortion isn't an issue the Koch's care about it. It doesn't effect their bottom line. They are more than willing to spend the money to put him in power to get their tax breaks and tax incentives in exchange for allowing him to gut abortion.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 11 months ago

You better hope that this will be upheld in the lawsuit. If not, the Republican Terrorist Party will not stop here. There will be immigration courts headed by Kobach for all "olive-skinned" people and those with funny accents. There will be squads roaming the streets looking for "papers" .

Hitler did not take over Germany. The cluelese people gave it to him.

"Those who do not learn from the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them"

Liberty275 6 years, 11 months ago

"Hitler did not take over Germany. The cluelese people gave it to him."

Isn't that how socialism always seems to work? Dumb people just hand over control to the state. I don't get it.

Alfred_W 6 years, 11 months ago

You do realize that Hitler was not a socialist, right?

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

You're obviously confusing socialism with fascism. Probably on purpose because you (falsely) think its cute, but maybe just because you watch Glenn Beck and just don't know any better.

Socialism is just a market based economy where the people jointly make the key economic decisions, sometimes taking more than just economics into account.

It's the dominant form of market economies around the world. Make bad economic decisions and you end up with something like Argentina. Make good economic decisions and you end up with something like Germany or Sweden.

Hitler was a socialist in the same sense that Eisenhower (or Nixon or Reagan) was a socialist. Both men believed that government plays a role in economic decisionmaking and that economics was not the sole determinant of economic choices (we don't sell babies to the highest bidder, do we?). Like everywhere else in the world in the aftermath of the market failure in the 1930s, laissez faire market systems weren't seen as something intelligent people would have any interest in, especially anyone wanting to gear up an economy for war, as Hitler did. Hence, the fascist "National Socialism" of Germany.

Likewise, we in the US like to bail out banks, provide tax expenditures supporting corporations on welfare, pay farmers to farm (or not farm), and write laws to allow powerful interests to steal from the People. You know, American Socialism, pushed largely by one political party that proclaims the most loudly the horrors of socialism. (What irony.) The list of GOP House freshman hypocrites making money by sucking on the public teat is long.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 years, 11 months ago

Thanks for your post, Jimo. It rankles me to no end when I hear semi-literate morons screaming "socialism". Most have no idea of what it really is and that it has been a part of the American society for a long time, i.e. Social Security (??!!) Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies (soil bank) and on and on and on. It is a cute buzzword that they heard Limbaugh or Beck use with little knowledge of the real nature of the concept.

The real elephant in the room now is China, they are taking our jobs, selling us back their cheap crap, buying our country by lending us money we cannot pay back. We are headed for a real fall because the U.S. government is behaving like a nit-wit idiot who thinks that all those "easy" credit cards they use to buy crap from the home shopping network are really not all that bad. The day of accounting is approaching.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Well yeah, why would any investors want to invest in a country with a dysfunctional political system? We have one political party in this country that has spent 3 years doing everything to stop economic recovery in this country just because the Pres comes from the other Party, might get credit for it, and otherwise leaves the instigators of the downturn having to explain why their policies have been an unmitigated stream of constant and unrelenting failure.

About a month ago, I was sharing dinner with an old friend who is a midlevel banker in a Chinese bank. For him (and apparently the Chinese in general), the Tea Party is a perfect example of why they utterly reject the notion of democracy. No, not because the Partiers represent rebellion against tyranny (oh Lord, spare us!) but rather how clearly they show how easily manipulated the people can be by irrational propaganda to attack policies that are clearly in the national interest (but not in the interest of a selfish minority).

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

A. See below. B. To be fair, the National Socialists did pick the unfortunate marketing term "socialism." They were about as authentic in that as they were regarding everything else. The Nazis never long lost sight on the threat of communism to the fascist goals and the need to undermine the "course of history" that made communism inevitable. Pretending to be "socialists" in an era when "capitalism" was a dirty and discredited word (including in the USA) was an obvious propaganda counter-measure. C. As many have observed, every is eventually "just like Hitler." D. While I do not agree that Tea Partiers are in any way equivalent to Nazis, they are similar in one respect -- the rise of Hitler and of the Tea Party do demonstrate that desperate people are susceptible to demagogues promising simplistic solutions built upon the existing prejudices of the popular culture. Luckily (I hope) American political culture is much more healthy and rigorous in its counter-balance - as long as the economy can overcome the multiple hurdles the GOP has placed in its path to recovery.
E. Of course, the original conceit was that socialism involves the people turning over power to the state. This is incorrect. Socialism is about the people through the state seizing control of their own economic destiny. Liberty's agenda is to create a living hell and label it Liberty, leaving anything that might limit or constrict that hellish war of all against all as Tyranny. (Quite an Alice in Wonderland ideology.)

chalice2 6 years, 11 months ago

If only we could be sure Clarence Thomas would be gone and Obama will have appointed someone sane to take his place, but the real upshot will be it will get to the Supremes while the oligarchy still controls the court and Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

Liberty275 6 years, 11 months ago

Do you think the senate is going to get anything close to 60 votes for anyone that deviates largely from whoever leaves. Besides, you don't think any conservative judge is going to leave his seat while the left controls the executive do you?

The only prayer the left has is one for the death of a supreme court justice, and even if that comes to pass, getting a liberal into the seat will be impossible without a 60 strong liberals in the senate.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 11 months ago

Worst Governor jobs and millions on lawsuits for unconstitutional laws.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, no wonder Kansas had to cut funding for the poor and needy. Brownback knew he needed cash to pay for lawsuits!

If it's not wars of choice it's lawsuits of choice.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 11 months ago

with tax subsides, and the majority of those jobs will pay under $10 and hour leaving a family of 2 well below the poverty level. Yea Kansas. (rolls eyes)

SDTPlant 6 years, 11 months ago

notanota's right! Put Brownback on the spot or in the spotlight for cronyism and other of his "sins". Jobs for Kansans? He's a joke. And a typical money grubber. Like the Koch's.

kernal 6 years, 11 months ago

Pick your battles, kids. There are more to come.

weeslicket 6 years, 11 months ago

once again, the old chinese curse: "may you live in interesting times"

cowboy 6 years, 11 months ago

Brownback ranks lower than pond scum , splat the stuff that is under the pond scum. Every Friday we get some batsh!t crazy order coming from the governor. One would expect this schedule from the Taliban after Friday Prayers .

Kirk Larson 6 years, 11 months ago

No. Ambergris stinks, but it's worth something.

pace 6 years, 11 months ago

Imo "never" is a dangerous thought. It is as likely as any disaster.

verity 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm with Pace on this one. Five activist conservatives on the Supreme Court. They declared corporations have the same rights as individuals, which pretty much insured bought elections.

Jillian Andrews 6 years, 11 months ago

I appreciate the national spotlight this will bring to Brownback and his self-serving agenda. I still cannot believe the people of Kansas elected this SOB. If Roe v. Wade goes, so do I. Hello Canada!!!

pace 6 years, 11 months ago

So many of these radical right laws, trying to church the masses or block civil rights or legislate us back to the old days that really never existed, end up in courts, Makes the lawyers rich and the drains the gov coffers. Spending government time and tax money. Passing level playing tax law would accomplish something. They haven't passed one bill to help jobs, to reduce foreclosures, to retrain workers, NADA.

Jimo 6 years, 11 months ago

Strange how you talk with real people and they are focused on jobs, jobs, jobs. But you turn on Fox and its spending, spending, spending.

You'd almost think that wingnuts were just trying to make things worse.

CHKNLTL 6 years, 11 months ago

this link is a news story about possible banning of abortion in Russia. even women on the other side of the world value their rights.

Kathy Theis-Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

Ahhhhhhhh - the sweet bird of justice speads its lovely wings!

Romans832 6 years, 11 months ago

The two clinics whose licenses were refused are laughing all the way to the bank! All this talk about how "poor" women are going to be denied care... I challenge any abortion clinic to not charge for pregnancy termination services, for anyone, rich or poor, covered by insurance, Medicare, or uninsured, for the next year.

weeslicket 6 years, 11 months ago

"I challenge any abortion clinic to not charge for pregnancy termination services, for anyone, rich or poor, covered by insurance, Medicare, or uninsured, for the next year."

interesting challenge. would you offer the same challenge to all providers of all "reproductive services"? snort.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 11 months ago

"“We are sincere in our desire to do what we can as far as improving the safety and comprehensiveness of the information women receive ahead of time, said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life."

Mary Kay Culp is a smarmy piece of work , much along the lines of our kansanjayhawk (hmmm, I wonder..); an anti-abortionist who tries to hide her true agenda behind a faux "concern for women". She succeeds in hiding that agenda about like a Kodiak bear succeeds in hiding behind a willow sapling. If this woman was really "concerned about the safety of women" she wouldn't be trying so hard to force them back to the coat hanger and the back alley. Seriously, this woman political dissonance is head exploding. Anybody mind if I call BS?

Jan Rolls 6 years, 11 months ago

The picture with this story tells it all. We can see who wrote the regs. I'm sure they talked more than once before the regs came out. Did the clinics get their say in writing the regs. No. These people can't even be sneaky.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 11 months ago

Romans832 (anonymous) says… The two clinics whose licenses were refused are laughing all the way to the bank! All this talk about how "poor" women are going to be denied care... I challenge any abortion clinic to not charge for pregnancy termination services, for anyone, rich or poor, covered by insurance, Medicare, or uninsured, for the next year. ==== R832: An interesting but irrelevant question. I suppose medical care will be 'free' about the same time the Koch brothers start giving away paper towels, napkins and natural gas.

weeslicket 6 years, 11 months ago

ibid: "I challenge any abortion clinic to not charge for pregnancy termination services, for anyone, rich or poor, covered by insurance, Medicare, or uninsured, for the next year."

interesting challenge. would you offer the same challenge to all providers of all "reproductive services"? snort.

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