Archive for Thursday, June 27, 2013

Federal judge considering blocking Kansas abortion rules

June 27, 2013


— A federal judge in Kansas expressed skepticism Wednesday that a Planned Parenthood clinic would suffer “irreparable harm” if an injunction isn’t issued to block parts of a sweeping state anti-abortion law from taking effect next week.

Chief Judge Kathryn Vratil considered arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood, which argues that Kansas’ new law infringes on free speech rights. The measure requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure will end the life of a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Backers of the law say it will protect patients by making sure they receive adequate information about abortion and fetal development.

The law takes effect Monday, and Vratil said from the bench that she’ll decide soon whether to block parts of the law until she can hold further court hearings. She’s set another hearing for July 29.

A key issue is whether Planned Parenthood’s clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park and the clinic’s medical director would be irreparably harmed by having to comply with the law for even a short period. Diana Salgado, an attorney for the New York-based Planned Parenthood Federation of America, argued that the standard is met when the clinic and its personnel are forced to publicly endorse anti-abortion views.

“It’s harm that can’t be undone because you can’t take back the speech,” Salgado said.

But from the bench, Vratil questioned whether the requirements disputed by Planned Parenthood would force practical changes in how abortion providers treat their patients and said, “I’m struggling with how you can be irreparably harmed.”

The same law also bans sex-selection abortions, blocks tax breaks for providers, prohibits them 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, but they’re being attacked in a lawsuit filed in state court last week by two doctors. A hearing in that case is scheduled Thursday in Shawnee County District Court.

Kansas was back in court after having spent nearly $769,000 on private attorneys in defending other anti-abortion laws enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature since GOP Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, took office in January 2011.

Planned Parenthood objects to a requirement that says the home page of its website must link to a state health department site on abortion and fetal development, along with a statement that the state’s information is objective. The organization also opposes a new mandate that patients receive information that a fetus can feel pain by the 20th week of pregnancy.

Salgado argued that the law is “egregious” in forcing abortion providers to espouse disputed arguments from the abortion opponents.

But the state argues that providers are free to put disclaimers on their websites saying they don’t think the state’s information is accurate and provide whatever additional information they deem relevant.

“The Kansas law does not do one thing to restrict what they say, which would be a problem,” said Stephen McAllister, solicitor general for Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office.

Not only has Schmidt’s office incurred big legal bills from previous lawsuits since 2011, it predicted earlier this year that defending the new anti-abortion law would cost an additional $500,000 over the next two years.

Dr. Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, who perform abortions at their Overland Park health center, filed the state court lawsuit challenging the entire law enacted this year.

Another lawsuit filed by Hodes and Nauser in 2011 over health and safety regulations specifically for abortion providers remains pending in Shawnee County District Court, preventing the rules from being enforced.

Planned Parenthood also is challenging the state’s denial of family planning dollars to provide non-abortion services, and the issue is before a federal appeals court. The state won a federal lawsuit over a 2011 law restricting private health insurance coverage for elective abortions.


FastEddy 4 years, 12 months ago

But from the bench, Vratil questioned whether the requirements disputed by Planned Parenthood would force practical changes in how abortion providers treat their patients and said, “I’m struggling with how you can be irreparably harmed.”

Is it just me or is the title of this article misleading?

costello 4 years, 12 months ago

I agree. Technically accurate, but creates the impression the judge is leaning the other way.

Alyosha 4 years, 12 months ago

I think the question of whether the title of the blog post is misleading is in the eye of the beholder.

"Considering" simply means "to think carefully about, especially in order to make a decision; contemplate; reflect on." So, nothing misleading about that word. The judge is thinking about (carefully, we hope) the issue before making a decision.

Second, Planned Parenthood asked for the injunction: "A Kansas abortion provider asked a federal judge Monday to issue an injunction stopping portions of the state’s new abortion law from taking effect July 1" --

So, the judge is reflecting on whether to grant the injunction Planned Parenthood asked for to prevent the law from taking effect. Putting those concepts together, one easily can get to "Federal judge considering blocking Kansas abortion rules."

If you see bias or mischaracterization, it's coming from your own interpretation, and not from anything in the plain meaning of the blog post's title's words.

A great object lesson in how one's own biases determine how one creates meaning out of thin air.

Alyosha 4 years, 12 months ago

In no rational universe does it imply anything but rather clearly states a factual description of what the judge is doing.

The headline, expanded, is saying "[A] Federal judge [is] considering [whether arguments put forth by Planned Parenthood requesting the] blocking [of] abortion rules [set to go into effect July 1 merit agreement]." Which is exactly what the story goes on to describe the judge as doing.

Try to demonstrate how the title of the blog post is "implying" anything other than describing the actual state of affairs. What would your allegedly less-misleading headline be?

A certain segment of the American public has certainly mastered the art of seeing things which are not there and believing things which are not true.

question4u 4 years, 12 months ago

What would Kansas legislators think of the following hypothetical scenario?

The State Legislature of New York has directed that all firearms retailers in New York state be required to tell customers that use of guns may make them them directly or indirectly responsible for killing innocent "whole, separate, unique, living human beings.” The websites of all New york firearms dealers are required to contain links to the state's website containing gun fatality statistics.

Backers of the law say it will protect customers by making sure they receive adequate information about firearms and firearm use.

Obviously, Stephen McAllister, solicitor general for Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office would say that the New York law law does not do one thing to restrict what they say. After all, he's not a hypocrite, and neither are Kansas legislators, right?

Jonathan Fox 4 years, 12 months ago

First off, this would only apply if the absolute only use of a gun were to murder someone, so as to not be responsible for own actions.

And also, to use a gun in any other capacity besides home defense, you have to either take a day and a half long hunter safety course or the even longer concealed carry course.

Basically 99.9% of the uses of a gun require much more information fed to a person than before they deliberately end a pregnancy.

Cait McKnelly 4 years, 12 months ago

So the script the doctor reads is as follows:
"I am forced by the state to tell you the following pack of lies, misinformation and misunderstandings. Here is what the state says: (content). Here is the truth (content)."
And the state is ok with that? So what was the purpose of passing the legislation in the first place? Other than, of course, defending it in court and filling the pockets of Brownback's favorite private attorneys with hundreds of thousands of dollars of tax money.

kernal 4 years, 12 months ago

Of OUR tax money. Many Kansans seem to have a problem grasping the consequences of that, yourself excluded.

ProfessorSeamus 4 years, 12 months ago

But, of course, those federal funds can't be used for abortions. Those funds paid for medical services for women including treatment of cancer, disease, etc. Birth control and education, thereby reducing unwanted pregnancies (and, therefore reducing abortions) are also provided. Many foaming at the mouth reactionaries overlook that little fact as well.

hedshrinker 4 years, 12 months ago

Would that be like how KS taxpayers are forced to underwrite the lawsuits which inevitably ensue when the Legislature and Governor knowingly and repetitively pass legislation which does not pass Constitutional muster simply so they can prove their Tea Party loyalty?

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