Kansas Abortion Providers Claim State Issued Licensing Regs Without Studying Possible Impacts

Last month, a federal judge temporarily blocked Kansas from enforcing new licensing regulations that sought to shut down the state’s three abortion clinics. Proponents of the new standards — which are far more stringent and specific than what the state currently requires of hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers — argued that stricter licensing requirements would help improve women’s safety, a notion the judge challenged before issuing a stay of the regulations.

Now, attorneys representing the Kansas abortion providers suing the state over the rules are alleging that officials drafted the regulations “without independently compiling data or studies on how the new rules would make the procedures safer for the women seeking them”:

Teresa Woody, a Kansas City, Mo., attorney representing two Kansas doctors who perform abortions, said Friday that the providers don’t think the state can show it has a medical justification for the new regulations. […]

Health department officials have said they based their regulations on rules from other states, most notably Arizona and Texas. KDHE spokeswoman Miranda Myrick said Friday that both state and federal guidelines for hospitals, clinics and other facilities are based on an assumption that they will “result in a higher level of care.”

“In developing these regulations, KDHE looked to resources that used established, industry-accepted standards of care in clinical settings that have been developed over many years,” she said in an email, adding that such standards are “grounded in evidence.”

Indeed, the rules were issued so hastily, it’s difficult to see how officials could have had time to study any of their implications. The state legislature passed the standards in April and Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) signed it into law on May 16. Kansas’ Department of Health and Environment issued the final version on June 17 and informed clinics that they would have to comply with the rules by July 1.

Since Brownback became Governor in 2010, anti-choice lawmakers in Kansas have passed bills that “banned abortions after 21 weeks based on the disputed notion that fetuses can feel pain then; required minors seeking an abortion to obtain the notarized written consent of both parents or a legal guardian; restricted private insurance coverage for abortions; and redirected federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood to other health care agencies.” Earlier today, a federal judge blocked the state’s law to defund Planned Parenthood, agreeing that the family-planning organization would “suffer irreparable harm while its challenge to the law works its way through the courts.”