Archive for Monday, July 1, 2013

Federal judge refuses to block Kansas abortion rules

July 1, 2013


— The chief federal judge in Kansas refused Sunday to temporarily block parts of a new state abortion law, including a requirement that providers’ websites link to a state site with information they dispute.

But U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil’s ruling Sunday in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood came after a state judge ruled Friday in a separate challenge that Kansas couldn’t enforce the website requirement for now. Vratil noted the previous ruling, in a case filed by two doctors, in concluding that Planned Parenthood would not suffer irreparable harm if she didn’t do the same. The rule was to take effect today.

Under the law, a provider’s home page will have to provide a link to a Kansas Department of Health and Environment site on abortion and fetal development and contain a statement that the state’s information is “objective” and “scientifically accurate.” Abortion providers object because the state’s information says that a fetus can feel pain by the 20th week of pregnancy, while the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has said there’s no evidence for such an assertion.

Supporters of the new requirement contend it ensures that women who are considering abortions have access to multiple sources of information about fetal development, the risks of abortion and alternatives to it.

“Women have a right to know that information,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the most influential anti-abortion group at the Kansas Statehouse.

She said of abortion providers: “They scream, ‘The sky is falling,’ no matter how reasonable the bill is.”

The website rule is part of a sweeping law approved by Kansas legislators this year that also bans sex-selection abortions, blocks tax breaks for providers, prohibits providers from furnishing materials or instructors for public schools’ classes and declares as a general policy that life begins “at fertilization.” Planned Parenthood didn’t challenge those parts of the law.

Abortion providers contend requiring them to declare that the state provides accurate and objective information on its website about abortion and fetal development violates their free-speech rights. Planned Parenthood is pursuing its federal lawsuit on behalf of a clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park that performs abortions and the clinic’s medical director.

Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which operates the Overland Park clinic, declined to comment, saying his organization had not had time to examine Vratil’s ruling.

Planned Parenthood had asked Vratil to keep the state from enforcing the website requirement while its lawsuit proceeds.

It also challenged a requirement that before doctors can perform abortions, patients must receive information containing a statement about the fetus’ ability to feel pain. Vratil concluded that “at this point in the litigation,” the objectivity of the information is “an unresolved question of fact.”

Kansas already restricts abortions after the 20th week following fertilization, with the law declaring “there is substantial medical evidence” that a fetus can feel pain by then. Legislators who enacted those restrictions said they relied on research from numerous studies.

“One has to look to experts and specialists in the research field of fetal pain to get accurate information on that subject, which is exactly what is happening in state legislatures,” Culp said.

But in a June 20 statement, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said a rigorous 2005 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that it’s unlikely a fetus perceives pain that early, adding, “no studies since 2005 demonstrate fetal recognition of pain.”

“The best health care is provided free of governmental interference in the patient-physician relationship,” the statement said.

The state-court lawsuit was filed by Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, who terminate pregnancies at their health center, also in Overland Park. Their litigation challenged the entire abortion law enacted this year.

Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty said most of the law could be enforced as of Monday, but her order blocking the website rule will stay in effect until the doctors’ lawsuit is resolved.

In her decision Sunday, Vratil said it’s “a close question” whether the website rule is “narrowly tailored” to meet the state’s interest of ensuring that patients are well-informed. The federal judge said because many non-patients also visit Planned Parenthood’s website, the rule “appears overbroad,” and she said there’s a substantial likelihood that Planned Parenthood will succeed in its legal challenge to the rule.

But Vratil still declined to issue an order blocking the state from enforcing the requirement. She said that because of Crotty’s ruling, Planned Parenthood couldn’t show that its clinic and medical director, named as parties in the lawsuit, would be “irreparably harmed.”


Mike1949 4 years, 11 months ago

But the states statement about information on the state's web pages are“objective” and “scientifically accurate is totally false. It is a fabrication and exaggeration of facts! So I understand the unwillingness of doctors not wanting to put false information to their patents!

rtwngr 4 years, 11 months ago

Oh, really? I can provide more scientific evidence that would prove that it is a child than you can provide to prove that it isn't. At exactly what point would you say it becomes a child?

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

Probably about the 23-24th week when it actually starts to develop a brain. Interestingly, that's also about the point that it has a chance of being viable without NICU intervention.

xclusive85 4 years, 11 months ago

Not that I completely disagree with your position on this issue cait, but you seem to get a little irritated when other people give misinformation You are wrong about when a fetus starts to develop a brain. According to the Mayo clinic, it starts at about week 7. The American Pregnancy Association also puts it at about 7 weeks.

Liberty275 4 years, 11 months ago

I trust them more than the doctors that kill children for free.

kusp8 4 years, 11 months ago

Meh, this law will be tossed at one level or another. At some point one of these laws is going to hit the Supreme Court and is going to reinforce Roe. A lot of neo-cons have too much faith in John Roberts. While he's certainly no liberal, he's shown a streak of common sense recently in several of his rulings. So while "the sky [may seem like it] is falling ", it'll be put back up not too long from now.

parrothead8 4 years, 11 months ago

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the most influential anti-abortion group at the Kansas Statehouse, said of abortion providers: “They scream, ‘The sky is falling,’ no matter how reasonable the bill is, just like we do with any scientific evidence that doesn't back our totally sentimental, non-scientific views."

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

If you actually wanted to reduce the abortion rate, you'd support immediate free access to birth control. 75% of all abortions would be prevented.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

But, but, people could then have sex with no consequences. Cannot have that. Must punish. Nasty, dirty.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

Not people. Just women. Sex is ok if you're a man, but women must be punished for it, whether they wanted the sex or not.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

A repeat of a comment I made on another thread.

You know, it's very Orwellian that the state legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, any legislation that mandated lying to it's own citizens for ANY reason. What makes it even worse is that they appropriated funds for it's defense at the same time they passed it because they KNEW they would be sued. They knew they weren't going to get away with it.
I have to shake my head and wonder at the collective sanity of a whole lot of people for ever electing these people to office in the first place.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

It's a bonus if they get sued and don't get away with it. Then they can keep campaigning on banning abortion. If they ever do actually ban abortions, they'll have nothing to run on but keeping them banned - or maybe imposing even more weird restrictions on women's reproduction. They're already claiming that birth control is the same as abortion, so maybe the could mandate chastity belts for teenagers or set minimum numbers of children each couple must have.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

Dear Mary Kay Culp,
“Women have a right to know that information."
Women do indeed have a right to full and accurate information about their reproductive health. What they DON'T need are lies told by you and the state to further your own particular political agenda. In a word, butt out of the relationship between a woman and her doctor. Three's a crowd.
'K thx bye.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 11 months ago

Mandating that information be given to women that has been clearly debunked and disputed by multiple professional organizations and governmental health agencies, both national and worldwide, hardly constitutes a "different point of view".

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

A lie constitutes a lie. The law requires doctors to tell blantant lies. No matter what your opinion on abortion, that should concern you.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

It's all about power---everything else is just by-products.

Of course, the far right radicals will scream that Truthout is a far left liberal magazine---and it is, but that doesn't make this article any less true.

Sheldon Shogrin 4 years, 11 months ago

I guess our government and the Pro-Lifers (funny how pro-lifers don't have a problem killing a doctor, nurse, MA that works at one of these clinics) don't know about this thing called the internet, where you can get all types of information, whether it's factual, an opinion, or just plain blatant lies. I also can't see how this particular Kansas administration can say "objective" when clearly all they've done is pushed their own religious agendas through to become law. Even better is all the research that's been done on the issue of life and when it begins. If life begins at fertilization, then if a woman has a miscarriage, she's breaking the law and should be held accountable for murder, whether it was planned or not. Right now in the world scientific community, there is much debate about when life officially begins. The research PROVES that humans don't actually reach full self awareness until minimum age 5. There has been absolutely NO evidence that a fetus can feel ANYTHING at 20 weeks. As far as the dimwitted Mary and her statement about the screaming...pot calling the kettle...are you still black? There's that dimwitted girl in Cali that gets paid big bucks by FOXNews, she went to school for history, but in her "well trained medical opinion", she sees no evidence that the woman in El Salvador that's fetus doesn't have half a brain, the mother has gestational kidney problems that most likely will kill her if her pregnancy goes full term. All these pro-lifers think they know so much, but in reality their own emotions completely block the facts.

Jay Keffer 4 years, 11 months ago

You said: "The research PROVES that humans don't actually reach full self awareness until minimum age 5."

Can't tell from your post if you have children or not, but guessing you don't. Having held the face of my newborn in my hands and looked into his. and then her, eyes. one realizes how wrong abortion is.

Try losing a child at any age, even at birth. You mention "self awareness"? How about the awareness of the parent? You cannot begin to experience the grief, and I wish that on no one.

Becoming a parent also impacts one's view of abortion. I have eternal regret for children I will never know due to selfish decisions. Having kids will change your mind and leave you with an unshakeable sorrow if abortion was a 'choice' you made in the past.

deec 4 years, 11 months ago

"Becoming a parent also impacts one's view of abortion."

Well, no. I was pro-choice before I had 5 pregnancies, and I'm pro-choice now. God aborted one of my pregnancies, but looking into the eyes of the other four sure didn't change my belief in the right to control my own body.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

Then start immediately offering all women birth control. That's the only true precaution you can take against the "possible killing of a human life." You could reduce the abortion rate by up to 75% that way. You should also devote tons of research into miscarriage prevention, since spontaneous abortion claims far far more fetuses than induced abortion.

Banning abortion only kills women. It doesn't prevent abortions or save fetuses. It moves abortions to back alleys and makes them less safe, but it doesn't end unintended pregnancies, so it doesn't remove the reason women seek abortions. If your goal is to kill women rather than preserve life, by all means, keep up the good work.

Centerville 4 years, 11 months ago

Birth control IS available to all women. Good grief.

deec 4 years, 11 months ago

It is also available to all men. If you want to halt abortion, start targeting men for having unrubberized sex.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

Men use them wrong. The methods available to women are more effective.

verity 4 years, 11 months ago

"Men use them wrong." As with a lot of things ;-)

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

Is it available for free? Is it available through all health plans, including those of those obnoxiously pretending to be pro-life companies like Hobby Lobby?

If you have to pay for it, it isn't actually available for all women. That's like saying that yachts are available for all people. Yes, there are people who can't afford effective birth control. And people who can't afford birth control are precisely the people we should most want to have access to it. That is, if your real desire is to lower the number of abortions people have and not to control how and when women have sex.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Nothing is free. Somebody always winds up paying for it.

Your suggestion is that we all collectively pay for birth control so that we all don't have to pay for the consequences of not paying for it. That may be a wise decision, I don't know. But please, stop saying "free".

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

Let's go there. So how much is a human life worth to you? If you believe abortion is murder, you're a monster for thinking that a few extra tax dollars is too much to pay to prevent even a single murder.

Actually, it ends up saving us taxpayers money in the end, so it's something even people who don't think abortion is murder can get behind. We'd have to pay the initial investment in birth control and women's well care visits, sure, but we'd have lower costs for things like food stamps, medicaid, social workers, and WIC. If you believe some studies, we'd even have lower crime rates.

So instead of saying "free," it should really be a word that means even better than free. A good investment that pays all of us back.

That is, if lowering the number of abortions is actually more important to you than controlling how and when women have sex.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

Let's go further. Pro-choice advocates strongly believe that whether or not a woman has an abortion is a private decision, one made between her and her doctor, and should be made without intrusion by others. For the most part, I agree. However, once you reach into my billfold in furtherance of that decision, then you're making that decision open to debate, open to input by those who are having their billfold reached into.

So let's look at whether or not we as a society decide to provide birth control to individuals upon demand. And for the sake of argument, I'll insert one of my own concerns, though others might have other concerns. Say the Lawrence Health Dept. decided to give condoms to a twenty something college student. I would have absolutely no concerns about that. How about if they gave out a condom to a 14 year old, without any parental input. I would have substantial concerns about that. Having as the official policy of the government to bypass the family structure would cause me great concern. And given that we taxpayers are the ones footing the bill for this policy, I'd say we have a right to be concerned, impose limits, impose guidelines, etc., into what should be a private decision.

Of course, that's just one concern amongst many, by one person amongst many. Once we all start paying for this, we all have a right to express our concerns, give our input, and ultimately, impose on others what should be a private decision. You just can't demand that privacy while simultaneously asking someone else to pay for your decisions.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Health insurance premiums go into a pot, and then that pot is used to pay claims.

So, in a certain sense, everybody's reaching into everybody else's pockets all the time if they have insurance and use it.

And, of course, we're all paying for the consequences now of various policies, as chootspa points out. It's not a choice between paying nothing and paying for birth control. It's a choice between paying for birth control and education or for the consequences of people not having that and/or not using it right.

The question about underage kids is troubling, but you do know that they're having sex all the time now - the question there for me is would it be better if we got them some birth control, or had to deal with all of the unplanned pregnancies and unwanted children?

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

While it's true that health care premiums go into a common pot, it's also true that I can choose to be a part of that pot, some other pot, or no pot at all, at least as of today. As a member of whatever pot I choose to be a member of, I can lobby that company to behave in certain ways and because I am a member of that common pot, my lobbying efforts are perfectly legitimate. Do you really want me or others lobbying what services they should provide for you, or would you rather just make your own decisions and pay for them?

Interestingly, when chootspa mentioned that this should be looked at as an investment strategy, I thought of you and previous conversations we've had about investments. Not only have you said you were risk averse, but you have said repeatedly that government should limit it's role to providing essential services. I, of course, might have a different level of comfort with investment strategies and chootspa still another. I may see government's role differently than you and chootspa may see still a different role. And as long as we all are contributing to a common pool, we all have equal voice in how the resources of that common pool are distributed. Again, in this very personal, very private area, do you really want to sacrifice your privacy just for the financial benefit that a common pool would provide?

As to the issue of minors, let me ask this question. Suppose my teen was caught having sex with another teen. Would I rather the person who caught my teen give him a condom, or would I rather that person told me so that I might deal with the situation as I saw fit, given the family values we're trying to give our teen. (Remember, my decision might well be to give my teen a condom and some information. Or my family might be doing any number of different things, raising our children as we see fit. Whatever, I do go into the conversation under the assumption that each family is entitled to raise their children as they see fit, as opposed to the government assuming that role.)

Again, if you demand privacy, fine, great, fantastic. Do your thing and leave me out of it. But if you choose to put me in the equation, don't be surprised when I insert my opinions, which might run counter to your private decisions.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

In other words, it isn't about preventing abortions or saving money for you. It's about controlling sexual behavior.

Good luck with that.

Now back to the grownups, who have far far more unintended pregnancies and abortions than teenagers. Married women make up a significant chunk of that. I doubt you're going to convince them to stop having sex. The far more pragmatic and cost effective approach is to make sure everyone has access to effective birth control (which comes in more varieties than "condom" fyi). It saves money, and it saves lives. It saves lives even if you don't believe abortion is murder. Pregnancy is a health risk.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

It is most certainly not about controlling anyone's sexual behavior, other than my own. It's about whether or not I have a voice in how my money is spent once it's taken by the government in the form of taxes. I believe I should have a voice in how my taxes are spent. So should you. So should Ms. Culp of Kansans For Life and so too Planned Parenthood. Those with opinions that reflect the majority should have a voice and so should those with a minority opinion. All that seems quite contrary to the frequently stated opinion that these are matters that should be private.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

That is the ONLY thing it is about. Controlling sexual behavior. Providing birth control to all who ask for it would not violate privacy. It would not force you or Ms Culp to make any changes to your sexual behavior whatsoever. It would save money and lives in the long run and would be purely voluntary for those who seek it, yet people like Ms Culp of Kansans for Life are steadfastly against the use of any sort of birth control by anyone at all, let alone providing it to anyone who asks.

Because she doesn't want to save babies. She doesn't want to prevent abortions by preventing pregnancies. She wants to control the sexual behavior of other women.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't understand your point - if reaching into each other's pockets gives us the right to get involved, then others can indeed lobby about what's provided and to whom. I'm just pointing out that it's not limited to government.

Most of us, myself included, can't afford to pay for all of our own health care out of pocket, and so we need to be part of health insurance groups.

Again, we're all paying already. We can't all have equal voice in our system - at the best, majority tends to prevail. I'd rather pay for birth control and education than the consequences of folks having a lot of unwanted pregnancies - and I don't just mean financial consequences.

We're not talking about somebody "catching" your teen, we're just talking about policies. Parents do have the right to raise their children as they see fit, within certain limits (and I find physical "discipline", while legal, to violate something very basic for me, and would prefer it be illegal to whack one's kids). But, regardless of how parents do that, their kids will act in a variety of ways that may not fit into what their parents want - kids these days are having sex younger and younger. The consequences of them not having birth control and knowing how to use it are more unwanted pregnancies and unwanted children.

Are you saying that because health insurance is a pool, that you then have the right to get into my personal decisions? I'd say that's not true, except insofar as those decisions affect health, and thus your premiums. Other than that, it's still none of your business. And, vice versa, of course.

jhawkinsf 4 years, 11 months ago

You're confusing two very different things. If my health care provider does something I'm opposed to, I can lobby them to change. Barring said change, I can withdraw my funds from them and seek health care elsewhere. What chootspa is advocating for is a system of compulsive contributions through taxation, which is fine, if that's as far as it goes. If the claim is then made that we cannot have a voice in how that money is then spent, even at the expense of someone's privacy, then that's a price too high. Just the other day you said that if an individual wants ultimate decision making power, that comes along with ultimate responsibility. Wouldn't that include financial responsibility?

It all comes down to this. You can claim it's good public policy. You can get a majority to agree with you. You can impose that on a minority. But if you do it through a system of forced taxation, then you lose the claim to the matter being private. You may still prevail on the public policy argument but you cannot take someone's money via taxation and then tell them to shut up about how it's spent.

jafs 4 years, 11 months ago

Well, not sure I completely agree that people give up all of their privacy rights just because we're using taxpayer funding for things.

Certain sorts of privacy rights have been found/established to be constitutional, and I don't think people give those up if they're receiving some sort of public funding.

As far as complaining, we all have the right to complain about government, in a variety of ways, and I wouldn't take that away from any of us.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

I'm really not sure where he's headed at all with the privacy thing, either. Seems he's stuck on a tangent and having a weird circular argument with himself.

chootspa 4 years, 11 months ago

I have a problem with 14 year olds having sex, but I'm not going to put my head in the sand and pretend that it doesn't happen. It even happens in the moralest of moral families, and often the kids are too scared to have the discussion with their parents. In fact, I'd wager most 14 year olds would be too scared to bring it up with their parents.

The greater good is still done by offering the service to any who ask, and it still SAVES the taxpayers money by avoiding expenses and consequences down the line, so you don't need to get your nose bent out of shape about your billfold. Unless you hate having more money in it?

roadwarrior 4 years, 11 months ago

jhawkinsf : I understand your point of view completely...but you have left out a key factor in protecting your pocketbook. You are currently paying for the offspring of unplanned pregnancies, you are also currently paying for offspring who, due to drug abuse or alcohol abuse of their parents during conception and gestation must be cared for by the system due to thier incredible disabilities. Don't trust me, look into it. I think when you consider these realities you will appreciate the comments that: subsidized birth control for everyone is far less costly to you while also reducing abortions. (addressing the pro life drum bang) Chootspa posted a really informational blog post that I recommend you read first...then come back to the conversation.

roadwarrior 4 years, 11 months ago

well Eddy, it might start then...but it certainly isnt a sure bet at that point.....Due to invitro fertilization there are huge volumns of fertilized eggs on ice - life in the freezer - ? but when this 'potential' life is discarded after that conception work is done, there is no outcry from congress or the far right !! As the, blog listed above said...the pro life movement isn't about saving 'babies'

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