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Archive for Monday, May 16, 2011

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signs bill imposing health, safety regulations on abortion clinics

May 16, 2011, 11:41 a.m. Updated May 16, 2011, 4:33 p.m.

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— Kansas will require annual, unannounced inspections of abortion clinics, impose new health and safety rules specifically for them and prevent them from using telemedicine systems to dispense pregnancy-terminating drugs under legislation signed Monday by Gov. Sam Brownback.

The new law takes effect July 1. Abortion opponents said the changes will protect patients, but abortion rights supporters fear they will drive one or more of Kansas' three abortion clinics out of business.

Brownback, an anti-abortion Republican who took office in January, has publicly called on the GOP-dominated Legislature to create "a culture of life," and it has responded by passing a raft of measures.

Along with mandating annual inspections, the new law directs the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to write standards for exits, lighting, bathrooms and equipment. KDHE would issue annual licenses, have the power to fine clinics and could go to court to shut them down.

The law comes with new rules for administering abortion-inducing medications, such as RU-486. Now, only a licensed physician can provide the drugs, and the doctor must be present when they're dispensed. Both sides agree clinics won't be allowed to dispense such drugs to patients at far-away sites through telemedicine systems.

"In order to make money doing abortions, they have to do a lot of them. Medical regulations slow them down," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life. "Anything we could do to require the clinics to care more about women than about their profit margins is a good thing."

Kansas' three abortion clinics are all on its side of the Kansas City metropolitan area. A Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri clinic and the Center for Women's Health are both in Overland Park, and the Aid to Women clinic is in Kansas City, Kan.

The late Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita was among a few in the U.S. known to perform late-term abortions, but it has been closed since he was shot to death in May 2009 by an activist professing strong anti-abortion views.

Center for Women's Health employees declined comment, but Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the goal of the abortion opponents who pushed the legislation was limiting access to such procedures.

"It has definitely put the clinics in Kansas in a vulnerable position," said Julie Burkhart, a former Tiller employee who founded the abortion rights political action committee Trust Women.

Jeff Pederson, the Aid for Women clinic's administrator, said it will be forced to spend $10,000 immediately on a new exit mandated by the law. He said a requirement that physicians at a clinic have privileges with a hospital within 30 miles is problematic because anti-abortion groups pressure hospitals into revoking or not granting such privileges.

Pederson said he hopes KDHE will write reasonable rules but added, "It may cause some sort of a lawsuit if it becomes unreasonable."

So-called telemedicine abortions are an issue because of the increased use RU-486, which accounted for 26 percent of the abortions in Kansas in 2010. That's about 2,200 abortions, more than double the number in 2005.

A Planned Parenthood affiliate in Iowa uses a telemedicine system to dispense RU-486 through 16 clinics, making the practice an issue for legislators there and in Nebraska. In Kansas, abortion opponents worry that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has plans for a similar program.

"There's some concern about abortions occurring without face-to-face consultations or close supervision by physicians," said Rep. Jan Pauls, a Hutchinson Democrat who opposes abortion. "The closer a woman is supervised, the better on that — for the safety of women."

Brownlie said his Planned Parenthood affiliate has no plans for such a program but added the new Kansas law will make using RU-486 more difficult by requiring patients to make several trips to a clinic.

The new law's enactment ends years of frustration for abortion opponents, who've long argued that the state was lax in regulating the clinics and enforcing restrictions on abortion. Similar clinic regulations were vetoed in 2003 and 2005 by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, an abortion rights supporter.

The health department regulates 158 hospitals and 72 surgical centers, which include the Planned Parenthood clinic and previously included Tiller's clinic. But dozens of other offices and clinics do surgeries under rules imposed by the State Board of Healing Arts, which regulates physicians.

The Board of Healing Arts can suspend or revoke a doctor's license if it finds unsafe conditions or medical practices, but abortion opponents have long accused it of being slow to act. In 2005, the board forced a physician to shut down a Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic, but the move came two years after complaints surfaced.

"We plead guilty to trying to stop access to negligent and just plain bad medicine," Culp said, arguing that abortion providers aren't likely to face malpractice lawsuits because women feel ashamed about their unwanted pregnancies.

Abortion rights supporters said it's hypocritical to target abortion without addressing other office surgeries that come with a higher risk of complications.

"The only effect is to make the services more expensive and more difficult to obtain, or more difficult to provide," Brownlie said.

Comments

Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months ago

Sam Brownback is following the same governing blueprint that Gov Scott Walker of Wisconsin is implementing.

According to Jim Hightower you'll find piles of right-wing money from the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, the Erik Prince(Blackwater Mercenary Army fame) family, and the Waltons of Wal-Mart supporting this racial neoconservative christian fundamentalist venture.

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Crazy_Larry 2 years, 11 months ago

Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex in Topeka, KS:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/planned-parenthood-opens-8-billion-abortionplex,20476/

During a press conference, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards told reporters that the new state-of-the-art fetus-killing facility located in the nation's heartland offers quick, easy, in-and-out abortions to all women, and represents a bold reinvention of the group's long-standing mission and values.

"Although we've traditionally dedicated 97 percent of our resources to other important services such as contraception distribution, cancer screening, and STD testing, this new complex allows us to devote our full attention to what has always been our true passion: abortion," said Richards, standing under a banner emblazoned with Planned Parenthood's new slogan, "No Life Is Sacred."

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Armored_One 2 years, 11 months ago

They, as in the governmental body as a whole, won't learn until they manage to shut down the entire concept of abortions. Once that happens, the child welfare system in this state will be completely swamped to the point of being unable to function at all.

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 11 months ago

How do these laws create jobs and help the economy?

This is big government intrusion into personal liberty.

The GOP: small government for corporations; big government for personal liberty.

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William Weissbeck 2 years, 11 months ago

This "problem" would be easily solved if these women's clinics could rent space in respectable same day surgery centers. That doesn't happen because other "respectable" physicians and local zoning fear that "the State" won't protect their properties from the fringe loonies. In many ways this is an AMA issue that they should be leading on. But apparently a physician's affluence comes before his Hippocratic oath.

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MattyPro12 2 years, 11 months ago

It amazes me that the right constantly touts the fact that they alone are the defenders of freedom and liberty...

Yes the right is all for freedom... Unless you're a woman, or African American, or Hispanic, or any other minority, or you're not a christian, or in a union, or are poor, or are unemployed, or a college student, or are elderly, etc. Unless you're an rich, christian white man willing to give thousands of dollars to help keep the extremist right wing in power, in exchange for said extremist right wing politicians literally whoring themselves out to their corporate/religious pimps to ensure that only said corporate/religious pimps get all the breaks.

Once again Fuhrer Brownback and his little puppets in the Kansas Legislature are neglecting the needs of it's citizens, instead choosing to focus all their time and energy to do their part to bring about the dawn of a new reich that is the republican party.

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pace 2 years, 11 months ago

they are very generous in using state money and state power to circumvent a woman's civil rights. They are using tax money and state power to illgally strip the rights of citizens. I don't care if you think women should have the civil rights, I care that the government is playing dirty games to block a woman's right. Law is being denigrated.

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Mike1949 2 years, 11 months ago

His laws (republican) aren't going to stop anything. It will just move underground and then we are going to have women having abortions in a back room like they did in the 20's. The problem is, women will be dying in the process. But that is what the republicans want, everyone knows that. They will say, my my, shame on you for getting pregnant.

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HomeSlice 2 years, 11 months ago

If the Left would stop aborting their base, perhaps they would have enough votes to defeat this evil, life saving governer.

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Edward Coan 2 years, 11 months ago

Why do people use the word "social conservative" to describe these right-wing nut jobs. They aren't "conservative", they are flat out radicals. True Republican conservatives were Barry Goldwater, Bob Dole, and to some extent even Ronald Reagan. Ike is rolling in his grave!

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Edward Coan 2 years, 11 months ago

"Anything we could do to require the clinics to care more about women than about their profit margins is a good thing."

That's the funniest thing I've heard all day!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 11 months ago

Sam Brownback should keep his personal neoconservative christian fundamentalist agenda items at home.

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seeker_of_truth 2 years, 11 months ago

Too bad his mother didn't believe in abortion. State would be a better place.

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kuguardgrl13 2 years, 11 months ago

Oh yeah, this legislation will definitely create jobs, boost the economy, and improve the quality of our schools! /sarcasm/

Now to my real opinions... Go right ahead, Brownback. Regulate those abortion clinics! If a woman is desperate enough, she still has the good 'ol wire hanger. I don't think I would have the guts to get an abortion myself, but I don't see any reason why the government should be able to tell a woman what she can or can't do with her own body. How can the Republicans expect sexual assault and rape victims to want to carry those children to term? It would be hard enough dealing with the emotional pain and mockery without having to care for a child you never wanted. I understand refusing abortions to teenagers who couldn't be bothered to use proper protection (I had several classmates in high school that used abortion as a form of birth control), but for women who are impregnated against their will, it's just cruel. Men don't have to deal with that sort of emotional upheaval. If these regulations actually made abortion clinics safer and more accessible, I might support it. What I gather is that none of this does anything to make it safer for the patients or do anything other than move closer towards making abortion illegal. We women of Kansas need to stand together and fight for legislation that protects our rights and our well-being!

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beatrice 2 years, 11 months ago

Well that should bring about some jobs.

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ksjayhawk74 2 years, 11 months ago

This is a set-up to provide the legal tools Brownback wants to just shut down abortion clinics completely.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 11 months ago

And the Brownback crusade to abolish lawful and safe abortion services in Kansas continues to satisfy the great unwashed voters of western Kansas who voted for this dumb a$$ for governer.

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BigPrune 2 years, 11 months ago

It's about time. After the doc in KC was keeping fetal parts in styrafoam cups right next to the chinese take-out in the break room fridge, sterilizing his instruments in portable dishwashers next to the toilet, - it's about time.

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William Weissbeck 2 years, 11 months ago

At least the governor will keep lawyers fully employed in Kansas. Others, not so much.

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