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Kansas’ Stringent New Licensing Law Shuts Down Abortion Clinic, Others Fear ‘We’re Doomed’

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"Kansas’ Stringent New Licensing Law Shuts Down Abortion Clinic, Others Fear ‘We’re Doomed’"

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Kansas is now down to just two abortion providers, after one clinic failed to meet the rigorous licensing requirements established by a new state law. Abortion advocates see the new regulations — which require abortion clinics to obtain a state license to continue operating past July 1 — as an effort by opponents to chase abortion providers out of the state. Kansas’ remaining clinics worry they could be next“:

A lawyer for the Aid for Women clinic in Kansas City, Kan., said Friday that it received a notice that its application for a license had been denied by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment without an inspection. Attorney Cheryl Pilate said the clinic was looking at its legal options but would have to close, at least temporarily.

The clinic received its notice on the same day the leader of a regional Planned Parenthood chapter said inspectors who spent two days at its Overland Park clinic found it will comply with all new regulations. An inspection of the third provider is scheduled for Wednesday. All three are in the Kansas City area.

“We’re doomed,” said Dr. Herbert Hodes, who performs abortions for the third provider, the Women’s Health Center, also in Overland Park.

The new requirements are far more specific than anything the state requires for hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers, and are much more detailed “than the rules for most clinics and offices in which doctors perform many surgical procedures.” The abortion providers were informed of the new standards earlier this month and given just weeks to comply with the new licensing requirements. For instance, the room where the abortions occur must maintain a temperate of between 68 and 73 degrees, have at least 150 square feet (excluding ‘fixed’ cabinets), and come with its own janitor’s closet with 50 or more square feet. Women also have to remain in recovery for at least two hours afterward.

No such requirements exist for hospitals or surgical centers and the state doesn’t mandate specific room sizes or temperature standards. Instead, “they’re tied to standards from the American Institute of Architects for medical facilities, which call for at least 360 square feet of unrestricted space for surgery rooms. But those standards apply to new construction.” The health department also doesn’t “set a minimum recovery time.”

If the licensing standards succeed in closing down the two remaining abortion clinics and discourage any new providers from entering the market, it will pose a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court held that states may enact some abortion regulations, but they may not “strike at the right itself” to terminate a pregnancy.

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