Kansas Planned Parenthood fights “first in nation” web link mandate

By Kathy Ostrowski, Kansans for Life Legislative Director

Judge Kathryn Vratil

Judge Kathryn Vratil

Last week we noted that Kansas pro-life laws were being taken to court without good reason [“Court defense for Kansas pro-life laws expensive? That’s because pro-abortionists challenge nearly every law!”] However it is encouraging that the federal lawsuit filed by Comprehensive Health/Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri is moving relatively quickly.

The lawsuit focuses on Kansas’ 2013 Pro-Life Protections Act, specifically the “first-in-the-nation” requirement that the link to the state “Woman’s Right to Know” abortion information website be positioned on an abortion clinic’s home page with this description:

“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment maintains a website containing objective, nonjudgmental, scientifically accurate information about the development of the unborn child, as well as video of sonogram images of the unborn child at various stages of development. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website can be reached by clicking here.”

As background, since 1997 women obtaining abortions in Kansas have been required to sign certification forms for their medical file that they “accessed” these Women Right to Know (WRTK) materials 24 hours prior to abortion. The right to supply state-issued abortion information was upheld in the 1992 “Planned Parenthood v. Casey” ruling in which the U.S. Supreme Court said the state has a role in ensuring abortion-seeking women are well informed.

Abortionists oppose WRTK information. This demonstrates both that the clinics lack candor on full informed consent and that they do not want alternative solutions to abortion revealed to women facing crisis pregnancies. And, in fact, Kansas annual stats show hundreds of women do not have abortions after getting this information.

In August, Planned Parenthood stipulated that all their abortion “clients” are receiving the printed version of these WRTK materials. Furthermore, after the WRTK materials became accessible online, all Kansas abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, voluntarily placed a link to the state website somewhere on their websites

So, since Planned Parenthood affirms that it distributes the printed WRTK materials (even while objecting to the content) and links to the state WRTK website, why do they oppose the web link being positioned on their homepage?

They argue that such prominent positioning with an “accuracy” tagline gives the appearance they endorse the WRTK materials. They are particularly offended by WRTK facts about the pain capability of the unborn child and the statement that “abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

The State of Kansas has supplied strong rebuttal filings in defense of this lawsuit. They argue that the WRTK web link does not interfere with any First Amendment speech rights. They note that the abortionist is not prohibited from voicing or publishing opinions in disagreement with the Kansas information, as one clinic has notoriously done for years.

Rather, defense attorneys say this WRTK web link with accuracy description is permissible state regulation of abortion commerce. After all, Kansas Planned Parenthood is a business: the “Who we are” section of their website reads: “Our primary service is providing abortion services from 4 to 22 weeks gestation.” And at a profit.

Abortionists may bristle at government consumer protection actions, but “The well-being of people who may be unsophisticated in health care matters is a compelling interest of the state” under Kansas case law (Bolton, 1979).

Kansas defense attorneys point to rulings in four other states since Caseywhere courts denied the abortionist’s claim that state informed consent regulation violated their free speech.

Both Planned Parenthood and the state of Kansas have filed formal requests that federal Judge Kathryn Vratil rule without a trial whether the weblink is permissible.

We believe Kansas will prevail.