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Archive for Sunday, July 3, 2011

Kansas to keep working on rules for abortion clinics

July 3, 2011

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— Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration plans to enact new regulations for abortion providers, possibly identical to ones blocked by a federal judge, and providers appear likely to challenge them in court.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment already had plans for a new set of rules even as it finished regulations that would have taken effect Friday. The agency described the first set as temporary, which allowed it to avoid taking public comments and get the rules in place within weeks, though they could remain in effect afterward for only four months. The next set of rules would be considered permanent and require public comment.

A new state law requires abortion providers to obtain a special annual license from the health department. The agency’s accompanying regulations would tell providers what drugs and equipment they must stock, require them to make patients’ medical records available for inspection, establish qualifications for staff, set minimum sizes for some rooms and limit the temperatures in procedure and recovery rooms.

U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, in Kansas City, Kan., has blocked enforcement of the temporary regulations and sections of the law requiring abortion providers to obtain annual licenses. Murguia’s ruling Friday will remain in effect as litigation continues in a federal lawsuit involving two of the state’s three providers.

Dr. Robert Moser, secretary of health and environment and a Brownback appointee, said his department respected the ruling and would “follow the law.”

But Moser added: “Judge Murguia’s ruling is narrowly tailored and does not prevent KDHE from moving forward to establish permanent licensing regulations.”

Supporters argue such rules protect patients from substandard care. Abortion rights advocates see them as unnecessary and designed to keep clinics and doctor’s offices from offering abortion services. They don’t trust the state’s licensing and rule-making because Brownback is an anti-abortion Republican, and abortion foes pushed the licensing law through the GOP-dominated Legislature.

Department officials have said their proposed permanent rules are identical to the temporary ones blocked by Murguia. Cheryl Pilate, an attorney for the Aid for Women clinic in Kansas City, Kan., said if the department makes few or no changes, providers will challenge the next set “for the very same reasons.”

“Those would certainly be taken up into the lawsuit,” she said.

Need for speed

Department officials contend the licensing law required them to have regulations in place by July 1 and to insist that providers comply, even though Brownback didn’t sign the licensing law until May 16. The last draft of the temporary rules was dated June 17.

But to move so quickly, the department needed the permission of the State Rules and Regulations Board, made up of two legislators and representatives of the attorney general’s, secretary of state’s and secretary of administration’s offices. The board approved the rules Thursday, but Kansas limits the lifespan of temporary regulations to 120 days, meaning those abortion rules expire after October.

And so the department also published a notice Thursday that it was proposing permanent rules, setting a public hearing for Sept. 7 in Topeka and preparing to consider suggested changes.

Moser said after Murguia’s ruling: “As a physician, I will oversee the process to insure that the permanent regulations are in the best interests of Kansas patients.”

Pilate said she’d expected the department to move ahead. She said she hopes it will consider information from providers and act with “greater reflection.”

“We would certainly plan to contribute significantly to the public record,” she said. “I hope that the public comment session is more than lip service to due process.”

Strict rules

The new state law requires any hospital, clinic or doctor’s office to obtain the special abortion license if it performs five or more elective, first-trimester abortions a month or any abortions at or after the 13th week of pregnancy. The license is held by the facility, not a doctor, and it’s not necessary if the facility performs abortions only to save a woman’s life or prevent “substantial and irreversible” harm to “a major bodily function.”

The first set of health department regulations would require abortions to be performed in rooms with at least 150 sq. feet of space, excluding fixed cabinets, kept at between 68 and 73 degrees. Each procedure room also would have to have its own janitor’s closet with at least 50 sq. feet. Any patient would have to remain in a recovery room for at least two hours.

The rules are stricter than abortion providers now face. Murguia said at least two patients faced “irreparable harm,” along with the two providers involved in the lawsuit, Aid for Women and the Center for Women’s Health, in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. They didn’t receive abortion licenses and would have had to stop terminating pregnancies.

The state’s third provider, a Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri clinic, also in Overland Park, already is licensed by the health department as one of 74 ambulatory surgical centers. It received an abortion license Thursday — after being initially denied and undergoing a second inspection.

Aid for Women and the Center for Women’s Health are among dozens of offices and clinics performing surgical procedures that are covered by less detailed rules from the State Board of Healing Arts, which licenses and regulates doctors.

In his ruling, Murguia said there’s a substantial likelihood Aid for Women, the Center for Women’s Health and their doctors will show that the state violated their constitutional right to due legal process. The judge also questioned whether the state has evidence yet that its new rules were “rationally related” to protecting patients.

“They do very little to ensure equitable health care for Kansas women,” said Julie Burkhart, founder of the abortion rights political action committee Trust Women. “Rather, these regulations prevent pregnant women from receiving quality health care.”

Abortion opponents noted Murguia himself said the record in the lawsuit is “not fully developed” and predicted additional evidence will make the case for the regulations. But Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, accused the judge of “thwarting the will of the people.”

“Do not underestimate the resolve of the pro-life movement,” Newman said. “For us, this is a matter of life or death for innocent children, and so we will not relent. We will not rest. We will not give up until every baby is saved.”

Comments

HermanBubbert 3 years, 5 months ago

Commissar Brownback has simplified a crucial life decision with which we were struggling: will we move back to Kansas? As life in Brownbackistan spins out of control, the answer is clear: Hell No. Well done, Mr. Brownback, well done. And thanks for making everything clear to us.

Katie Dennis 3 years, 5 months ago

How in the heck would anyone believe these regulations are being put in place for patient protection when Brownback is so openly anti-choice. It just seems ridiculous to ask the public to believe he actually cares about the women who are in the difficult position of even having to consider abortion. He doesn't!

rtwngr 3 years, 5 months ago

Still waiting on an explanation of how a child in the womb is not a human but a child outside the womb is.

Corey Williams 3 years, 5 months ago

When it can breathe, eat and drink outside of the mother's womb, it's a child.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 5 months ago

These clinics are not "fighting for funds" to do abortions. Only 1% of their services are abortions. They are fighting for funds to keep people like you (I am assuming you are female from your screen name) alive with cancer screenings, providing pre-natal care and actually trying to limit abortion by providing education and birth control. But you don't see that. If the US Constitution means so little to you and you are so ashamed of being an American then maybe you should go to Somalia and see what living without a viable government really is.

Jimo 3 years, 5 months ago

Indeed. Somalia - a country with no pesky government to tax or regulate anyone and controlled by religious fanatics.

GOB 3 years, 5 months ago

Women don't wear condoms - men do. Condoms can also break, have holes, slip off. You do realize it takes two people to make a baby? So if there is a stupid mistake made it would be made by two people - both the man and the woman. Women are not solely responsible for abortions.

lindsbug 3 years, 5 months ago

Sooo ... what you're saying is, you would rather have those "idiotic girls" reproduce than wait until they are mature enough to have a baby? Beautiful reasoning.

You may want to double-check your statistic about most girls getting abortions because they didn't use a condom. There are many pregnancies due to birth control failures (e.g. broken condom, contraceptive sponge that doesn't work, etc. etc.) and, as sickening as this is, rape.

I sincerely hope you are looking for a house in Somalia. A person with your mentality really is better suited to carrying water on his or her head.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 5 months ago

Troy Newman's comments, in and of themselves, will be proof for the court that these regulations have nothing to do with "the safety of women" and everything to do with limiting access to abortion services.

Cait McKnelly 3 years, 5 months ago

"But Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, accused the judge of “thwarting the will of the people.”" Does Newman believe that the US Constitution is not "the will of the people"? Because the only way he and his people will ever get rid of abortion is through a Constitutional amendment. And, although I can see the Kansas Legislature approving such an amendment (considering that to date the KS legislature STILL hasn't approved the amendment that repealed Prohibition) I highly doubt he will get the majority of US states to go along with him.

Uhlrick_Hetfield_III 3 years, 5 months ago

i believe accusing someone of committing a crime without being able to prove it is libelous on its face and your screen name will not protect you if they decide to come after you. Indeed, when allegations of criminal conduct are made I don't even think they have to prove damages.

sciencegeek 3 years, 5 months ago

"The will of the people" means the will of people who agree with him. They are the only ones who count to fanatics.

overthemoon 3 years, 5 months ago

In an interview on Rachel Maddow last week, one of the doctors pointed out that, while failing to meet the regulations would preclude them from performing 'unsafe' elective abortions, they would still be able to provide the exact same medical procedure and care for women undergoing a miscarriage. Room size, equipment, lighting, temperature, available meds and post op recovery time for a D&C procedure for a miscarriage are no different for an elective termination, so I think that the cover story of wanting 'to protect' women is more than a bit flimsy.

Scott Tichenor 3 years, 5 months ago

More red meat for his Koch Brothers base. Paying a lot of attention to hot button issues so that it detracts from his utter failure to create job growth in the state. Notice no one in the administration is talking about jobs? Because all they've done since he's taken office is to create unemployment for Kansans. What's The Matter With Kansas? It's so obvious. Our collective population elected an idiot.

Jimo 3 years, 5 months ago

But talking about jobs would just reveal that Sam has no plan at all to create jobs. He's not the brightest bulb but he does have some political instincts.

storm 3 years, 5 months ago

Oh lord, what next, toe-nail extraction clinics are going to be regulated.....

There's no such thing as abortion clinic, only women's health-care facilities. One does not identify the foot doctor or foot clinic or any other speciality physician, by one single procedure.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 5 months ago

We live in a world where far too many people are "too busy" to be bothered to exercise our right to vote or make the effort to learn about the candidates who are running for office. We celebrate the birthday of the country that gives us this right today, but those who simply do not care allow facists like the present administration with it's leader Brownbackward, to make unvarnished attempts to restrict medical proceedures that have been declared safe and legal in the country who's birthday we celebrate today.

Kansas gest the leadership it deserves from the disinterest and ignorance of it's voters.

BigAl 3 years, 5 months ago

kusadgirl... If you don't want an abortion, don't have one. Beyond that, it is none of your businss.

coleja 3 years, 5 months ago

I don't understand why abortion is such an issue. Brownback needs to get his head out of the gutter and realize that people DON'T HAVE JOBS! There are other more important issues that he needs to address besides the abortion one. I'm mad at myself for not voting becaue I definitely wouldn't have supported this clown. There are people who are becoming homeless overnight because they do not have the money to even keep their homes. He needs to focus on giving legislation to help the economy is this state instead of focusing all his attention on the abortion clinics. Let's get some jobs and then we can talk about the abortion issue if it is even an issue in first damn place.

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