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.”


roadwarrior 9 months, 2 weeks 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'


FastEddy 9 months, 2 weeks ago

It's not inaccurate (and definitely not a lie) to say that life "begins" at conception. Every element necessary to produce a human life is present at this point and science does not support those who go to great lengths to convince you that such is not the case. It's pretty simple actually.


roadwarrior 9 months, 2 weeks 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.


LJ Whirled 9 months, 2 weeks ago

“The best health care is provided free of governmental interference ..."

So much for that concept.


Centerville 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Birth control IS available to all women. Good grief.


slshogrin 9 months, 2 weeks 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.


verity 9 months, 2 weeks 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.


Cait McKnelly 9 months, 3 weeks 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 9 months, 3 weeks 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.


parrothead8 9 months, 3 weeks 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."


Jackie Jackasserson 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Kelp is naive if she thinks legislators actually read and give weight to a wide range of research.


kusp8 9 months, 3 weeks 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.


Mike1949 9 months, 3 weeks 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!


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