By Kathy Ostrowski, Kansans for Life Legislative Director
The state Rules & Regulations Board met in the Statehouse in Topeka Thursday to approve temporary regulations devised by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to administer the new abortion clinic regulation law that went into effect Friday.
After lobbying tooth and nail for nearly a decade against this law, and complaining all week that the regulations were unnecessary and impossible to achieve in short time, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri secured a license late Thursday. Kansans for Life (KFL) Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp said, “Frankly, Planned Parenthood securing a license was never seriously in doubt and they knew it.”
Planned Parenthood promised to withdraw a lawsuit they had filed against the licensure law, passed in the 2011 legislative session, although they are still pursuing another lawsuit in federal court. Planned Parenthood is challenging a portion of the 2012 Kansas state budget that directs that family planning services financed in any way under “Title X” federal rules must be contracted primarily with public health clinics and secondarily with qualified non-public hospitals or health centers that provide comprehensive health care–primary and preventative.
Planned Parenthood argues that the provision violates its right to free speech and legal due process. The organization told reporters that it expects the budget provision to cost it about $331,000, up to one-third to half of the clinics’ budgets in Hays and Wichita, according to Peter Brownlie, local president of Planned Parenthood.
The Overland Park affiliate of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri is sited on the Kansas side of the state line and admits to an estimated 4,800 abortions annually. Of the 8,338 abortions done in Kansas in 2010, nearly half (4,150) were obtained by non-residents, and almost all of them (4,077) were from Missouri.
Meanwhile the two other Kansas abortion businesses –Aid for Women and Center for Women’s Health–persuaded U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia to issue an injunction Friday against the new abortion clinic regulation law. The injunction will stay in effect until there is a trial in the lawsuit.
“The Kansas attorney general’s office argued that the Planned Parenthood license disproved claims by abortion-rights advocates that the state’s new rules were designed to cut off access to abortion rather than protect patients,” the Associated Press reported.
The Aid for Women Kansas City, Kansas, Medicaid clinic, which says it performs 1,400 abortions annually, wasn’t even close to passing the regulations, and thus KDHE wouldn’t even inspect the premises.
The Overland Park, Kansas, Center for Women’s Health is a father-daughter ob/gyn clinic, responsible for nearly 2,100 abortions annually. They cancelled their scheduled KDHE onsite inspection.
State abortion business regulation is not a novelty. Twenty-seven states do so, though the laws often are won after protracted legal battles. Similar comprehensive facility laws like Kansas’ in South Carolina and Arizona required seven and ten years to litigate, respectively.
Federal courts have repeatedly rejected claims that state regulation violates the “right” to abortion, or causes an undue burden. Rather, states may rationally regulate abortion businesses as a class while other clinics or medical practices are not. The courts have held that such regulations serve a valid state interest, codifying national medical and abortion association recommendations designed to ensure the appropriate care of women.