Federal judge blocks Kansas abortion law requiring licenses for clinics

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Kansas [official website] on Friday issued a preliminary injunction to block a Kansas regulation [SB36] requiring clinics within the state to obtain a license to perform abortions [JURIST news archive]. If not for Judge Carlos Murguia's decision, two of the state's three clinics would have been forced to close [AP report], as they were unable to meet requirements from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment [official website], which were issued last month and took effect on Friday. The clinics' inability to conform to the health department's regulations that control aspects of the their operations ranging from what drugs must be stocked to the minimum size of recovery rooms, prevented them from obtaining a license as required by SB36, which also took effect on Friday. The injunction stemmed from a lawsuit filed earlier this week [JURIST report] on behalf of two doctors by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CCR) [advocacy website], who allege that the regulations violate providers' due process as well as place an undue burden on patients seeking abortions.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) [official website], a known opponent of abortion, approved the regulation at issue in May, one month after signing [JURIST report] two other pieces of legislation restricting abortions. In April, the governor approved the Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act [HB 2035, PDF], requiring unemancipated minors to obtain notarized parental signatures before an abortion may be performed, and the "fetal pain bill" [HB 2218, PDF], which restricts abortions beyond 22 weeks of pregnancy based on the belief that a fetus can feel pain at that stage of gestation. While states have been busy passing legislation seeking to restrict abortions, the courts are not always on board. In a move similar to the one taken by the District Court of Kansas, a judge for the US District Court for the District of South Dakota [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] earlier this week, blocking a South Dakota abortion regulation [HB 1217] requiring a 72-hour waiting period. Judge Karen Shreier ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota (ACLUSD) and Planned Parenthood Federation of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota [advocacy websites] were likely to succeed on their claims provisions in the law violate doctors' and patients' First Amendment rights and creates an undue burden on woman seeking abortions. The waiting period is the longest passed by any state.

 

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