Federal judge refuses to block Kan. abortion rules

Jul 1, 2013, 1:14 AM

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – 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 Monday.

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.”

___

Online:

Text of the new Kansas law:
http://bit.ly/13mjcIA

___

Follow John Hanna on Twitter at
www.twitter.com/apjdhanna

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Uncategorized

FILE - A sign bearing the company logo is displayed outside a Tesla store in Cherry Creek Mall in D...
Associated Press

US has over 750 complaints of Teslas braking for no reason

DETROIT (AP) — More than 750 Tesla owners have complained to U.S. safety regulators that cars operating on the automaker’s partially automated driving systems have suddenly stopped on roadways for no apparent reason. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed the number in a detailed information request letter to Tesla that was posted Friday on […]
1 month ago
A destroyed window of a house is seen during a military sweep to search for possible remnants of Ru...
Associated Press

Zelenskyy: Retreating Russians leave many mines behind

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned his people early Saturday that retreating Russian forces were creating “a complete disaster” outside the capital as they leave mines across “the whole territory,” even around homes and corpses. He issued the warning as the humanitarian crisis in the encircled city of Mariupol deepened, with Russian […]
3 months ago
...
Arizona Department of Gaming

While March brings upsets and buzzer-beaters, it also needs to bring caution

In March, basketball fans around the country glue themselves in front of a television for almost 11 hours for four consecutive days.
3 months ago
Follow @KTAR923...
KTAR.com

Some of the greatest Big Game comebacks in NFL history

The Big Game has brought some of the best and worst comebacks for not only the casual fan, but gambling fans.
5 months ago
...
No Author

Broomhead’s Action Alliance

Sign up to make a difference! Join Broomhead's Action Alliance to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities where you'll work side by side with Mike Broomhead in service to others.
7 months ago
KTAR.com

Couple residing in Chandler arrested for AHCCCS, pandemic loan fraud

A couple residing in Chandler was arrested on Wednesday for allegedly fraudulently billing the Arizona healthcare system and for fraud in their applications for COVID-19 pandemic-related loans, authorities said.
11 months ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
Federal judge refuses to block Kan. abortion rules