Archive for Friday, June 21, 2013

Kansas doctors file suit over anti-abortion law

June 21, 2013, 3:56 p.m. Updated June 22, 2013, 12:02 a.m.


TOPEKA — Two Kansas doctors filed a lawsuit Friday in state court seeking to overturn a sweeping new anti-abortion law set to take effect in July, only a day after Planned Parenthood attacked portions of that law in a federal lawsuit.

Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, contend in their lawsuit that the new law violates their rights to equal protection as guaranteed by the Kansas Constitution. The law blocks tax breaks for abortion providers and prohibits them from furnishing materials or instructors for public schools’ human sexuality classes.

Hodes and Nauser perform abortions at their health center in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. They previously filed a lawsuit in 2011 over health and safety regulations imposed specifically for abortion providers, and that still-pending suit in Shawnee County is preventing the state from enforcing the rules.

This time, Hodes and Nauser also are challenging provisions of this year’s law spelling out what information doctors must provide to women before terminating their pregnancies, including a statement that abortion ends the life of a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.” They also object to a ban on sex-selection abortions, arguing there’s no proof any are performed in Kansas and that the provision is designed to “chill the performance of abortions.”

In addition, the doctors argue in their litigation in Shawnee County District Court that the new law defines medical emergencies so narrowly that no woman could forgo the state’s 24-hour waiting period, even with a life-threatening condition.

“The law as a whole would impose such an incredible burden,” said Stephanie Toti, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the doctors.

Officials with Kansans for Life, the most influential anti-abortion group at the Statehouse, said all of the regulations were drafted to withstand court scrutiny. Kathy Ostrowski, its legislative director, said the language on medical emergencies is not as narrow as described and only prevents abortion providers from avoiding restrictions by citing mental health reasons for an emergency, such as a suicide threat.

Mary Kay Culp, the group’s executive director, said Hodes and Nauser are “out of the mainstream.” Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is a strong abortion opponent, and the Legislature has big anti-abortion majorities in each chamber.

“They’re basically out of options in a state where the governor and the Legislature are pro-life,” she said. “Their only option is the courts.”

The new law also declares that life begins “at fertilization.” Supporters argue that it’s merely a broad statement of principle, not an attempt to regulate abortion, and Hodes and Nauser are asking for a ruling to that effect.

Previous lawsuit

Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Overland Park and its medical director sued the state on Thursday, limiting its federal court challenge to “informed consent” provisions and a requirement that a provider’s website link to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Planned Parenthood argues those provisions violate free speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, a Planned Parenthood lawsuit in 2011 against a state law denying the organization family-planning dollars for nonabortion services in Kansas is before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office has paid outside lawyers more than $758,000 defending anti-abortion laws enacted since Brownback took office in January 2011.

Friday’s lawsuit names Schmidt and Brownback’s secretaries of revenue and health and environment as defendants.

Among the provisions that the suit attacks is one requiring abortion providers to post a sign on their premises noting that it is illegal for anyone to coerce someone into having an abortion. The lawsuit said the notice is so lengthy that the sign will have to be at least 6 square feet.

“At some point, it just becomes absurd,” Toti said.

But Ostrowski said the sign would be the size of a small picture. Culp said the law’s requirements are designed to ensure that women get adequate information from abortion providers.

“They want to call it ‘choice’ even when they control all of the information given to a woman,” she said.


Keith 5 years ago

Culp said that Hodes and Nauser and other providers are "clearly out of the mainstream." Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is a strong abortion opponent, and both legislative chambers have strong anti-abortion majorities.

"They're basically out of options in a state where the governor and the Legislature are pro-life," she said. "Their only option is the courts."

All those statements may be true, and yet none of them have any bearing on whether or not the laws passed are constitutional.

Mike1949 4 years, 12 months ago

they are unconstitutional because they don't require every doctor to go through the same hoops before surgery. Some of the requirements are just plain stupid, which doesn't surprise me because no one in Topeka are very bright any more!

Greg Cooper 5 years ago

, which they are patently not.

You neglected, in your haste, to end the sentence.

Lynn Grant 5 years ago

Yes, Mary Kay, their only option is the courts. That is the only branch of Kansas government not bought & paid for by the so called moral majority (a majority who is not always moral). At least the court can examine the law as to how it fits with the Consititution and make a ruling not based on what our governor and his minions tell them. At least for now.

overthemoon 4 years, 12 months ago

but they're trying to take down the courts, too.

smileydog 5 years ago

The headline is very misleading. It should read "Two Kansas doctors file suit...". The way it reads now, it is as if ALL doctors in Kansas are filing suit.

skull 5 years ago

Doctors is the plural of doctor, right? Not really misleading...unless you believe every doctor in Kansas (PhDs also?) get together and decide who to sue on a daily basis.

fiddleback 5 years ago

There's a glaring omission in both this and the article about the Planned Parenthood suit-- part of the "compelled speech" that these plaintiffs are battling is the law's requirement that providers mention the (thoroughly debunked) correlation between abortion and breast cancer.

Given how extraordinarily dumb it was for these total rubes to try to put such words in doctor's mouths, and given how much the Associated Press loves to highlight that Kansas is governed by total rubes, I'm shocked to find no reference to this infamous provision in either article...

bearded_gnome 5 years ago

hmmm, save some lives. then babies grow up, having *survived their mothers' wombs. they are due rights, aren't they?

they are the least able to speak for themselves.

p.s. I was one of those "inconvenient babies" whom the proabortion folks like to say should be killed in the womb. ... so was Jesus.

skull 5 years ago

Obviously you weren't, and neither was Jesus, or you wouldn't be here, and we wouldn't have to listen to you proselytize. Nobody is pro-abortion. This lawsuit is about first amendment rights and an obviously unconstitutional law, not roe v wade.

parrothead8 5 years ago

I've never heard "proabortion folks" say that ANY babies "should be killed in the womb." They argue that it is a woman's choice. Not theirs. Not yours. And certainly not the Kansas Legislature's. Just the woman's.

Nobody argued that you should have been aborted (unless you know something you're not telling us), and nobody argued that Jesus should have been aborted (at least there's no mention of it in the Bible.) Stop making things up.

skull 4 years, 12 months ago

See roe v wade. That "fairness" was decided 35 years ago. The lawsuit is about the first amendment and an obviously unconstitutional law.

smileydog 4 years, 12 months ago

Then it should be legal for Mary Smith to kill her child after it is born. After all, it's the 'woman's choice' not theirs. Not yours. And certainly not the Kansas Legislature's. Obama would back me up on this one since he voted for a provision in Illinois that it should be legal to kill a born child.

skull 4 years, 12 months ago

Again...roe v wade has nothing to do with this lawsuit. This is not about the legality of abortion (which was decided 35 years ago), but about the first amendment rights of those who provide said legal procedure. Killing a born child is murder and covered under a completely different law. The acting president and what happens in Illinois have nothing to do with this lawsuit or this obviously unconstitutional law and are therefore completely irrelevant to this discussion.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 12 months ago

I think Gnome is writing about babies born out of wedlock. It does say in the Bible that Joseph was going to leave Mary because of her pregnancy and odds are she would have been stoned to death, but an angel appeared to him and persuaded him to stay with Mary.

chootspa 4 years, 12 months ago

Newsflash: they knew how to abort fetuses in Jesus' time. That's probably why the angel came to visit her and explain what was going on. Mary made a choice. Good for her.

Kate Rogge 4 years, 12 months ago

Although the Kansas legislators, and our esteemed Governor, pass and sign such laws to pirouette before their anti-abortion supporters, that is not enough, in my opinion, to make this anti-abortion law constitutional as it is clearly intended to restrict or prevent women from exercising their right to obtain a legal abortion in the State of Kansas (which is still legal in Kansas).

skull 4 years, 12 months ago

I've never heard of the "Obamacare v the United States" decision. Was that not covered in the main stream media?

Carol Bowen 4 years, 12 months ago

Our State Attorney General will be busy with all these law suits. I hope Brownback budgeted attorney fees and court costs. We knew these suits would happen. There will be more, probably regarding school financing.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 12 months ago

Derek Schmidt requested 500k from the state legislature for the sole purpose of defending this legislation. 800K has already been spent defending various other Kansas anti-abortion laws that are still wending their way through the courts. Watch your tax dollars go down the drain defending indefensible legislation.
And Mary Kay Culp is wrong. The majority of KANSANS may be pro forced birth (they aren't "pro-life" no matter how much they scream those words) but over 70% of Americans nationally believe that abortion should remain legal.

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