A federal judge in Kansas has declined to block parts of the state’s highly restrictive anti-abortion law, which takes effect on Monday.
On Sunday, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil refused to honor a request from Planned Parenthood challenging the law’s requirement that abortion clinics’ websites provide a link to medically disputed information about abortion listed on the state’s Department of Health and Environment website.
Planned Parenthood had asked Vratil to block the requirement while its pending lawsuit proceeds, but she ruled that Planned Parenthood would not suffer irreparable harm if the requirement remained in place, even after Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty ruled on Friday that the state could not enforce the requirement.
Pro-life activists believe the information provided by the state’s Web site is accurate and objective, and women deserve the right to know before making the decision to obtain an abortion. However, a host of medical professionals have demonstrated that the state’s information is misleading and inaccurate. For instance, the Web site indicates that a fetus can feel pain by the 20th week of pregnancy, but according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there is no evidence for this claim.
Moreover, the Web site claims there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, which the American Cancer Society has said is inconclusive.
Vratil ruled that the information’s accuracy and impartiality is “an unresolved question of fact.”
Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit involves the specific provisions of the law requiring abortion clinics to display what Elise Higgins, the manager of government affairs at Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, called “coercive” information. But the Center for Reproductive Rights also filed a lawsuit in June, which challenged the entire 47-page law.
In a press release responding to this weekend’s rulings, the Center’s litigation director Julie Rikelman explained that the law “leaves in place other provisions that unconstitutionally discriminate against women and their doctors and seek to prevent them from exercising their fundamental right to make their own decisions about their health, families, and future free of the interference of hostile politicians pushing an ideological agenda.” Rikelman pledged that the Center would “continue our campaign to ensure that all parts of the law are permanently overturned.”
In addition to the disputed information requirements, House Bill 2253, passed on April 19, contains numerous restrictive measures. According to the Associated Press, the law “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.’”