Pro-Life Physicians Group to Defend Kansas Abortion Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 2, 2011   |   3:46PM   |   Topeka, KS

A national organization for pro-life physicians is stepping in to help defend a new Kansas law that would regulate abortion centers and could close one or more if they don’t meet the health and safety standards.

The new law pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback signed requires abortion centers to meet the same basic health and safety standards as legitimate outpatient surgical centers such as, according to the bill, “having an emergency door that can accommodate a gurney … maintaining proper emergency equipment, drugs and protocols, having proper lighting and ventilation, lavatory areas, and spaces for the sterilization of surgical equipment. Clinics must also have a licensed nurse in the clinic when abortions are done.”

The law faces two lawsuits from two of the three abortion businesses it affects. They are hoping to take down the law but it would be unenforceable if the state does not hold a public hearing and take comments on the law in four months.

Today, the American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) announced it has filed an appeal of a Federal Court ruling that blocked a new Kansas abortion clinic licensing law (SB 36) from taking effect.

In July, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, a Democrat and an appointee of pro-abortion President Bill Clinton, issued an injunction against the law that will remain in effect until the lawsuit is complete. Murguia said he had seen enough evidence from the two other abortion centers showing that they would “suffer irreparable harm” if the law went into effect. The Kansas attorney general’s office argued that that was not the case — pointing to the fact that Planned Parenthood received a license as evidence that abortion businesses that agree to follow proper laws will be licensed.

The new filing from the physicians group in response says: “AAPLOG has members in Kansas who will be directly affected by the disposition of this lawsuit. Specifically, the reduced safety, less-than-ideal sanitary conditions, poorer accommodations and lack of follow-up care at abortion facilities in the absence of SB 36 inevitably exacerbates complications among post-abortive women, and shifts costs of abortions onto AAPLOG members who treat post-abortive women. In addition, AAPLOG members are put at a competitive disadvantage by the enjoining of SB 36: AAPLOG members provide costly follow-up care for their services while Plaintiffs often do not unless required by SB 36.”

Attorneys representing AAPLOG are Andrew Schlafly of Far Hills, New Jersey, and Thomas Dawson of Leavenworth, Kansas. Schlafly is an attorney who is also the son of pro-life pioneer Phyllis Schlafly.

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman commented on the filing and said, “The court’s ruling blocking the law places women at unnecessary risk and places the profit margins of abortionists over the lives and safety of women.”

“Right now in Kansas, dangerous abortion clinics operating under substandard conditions continue to endanger women,” said Newman. “There are parts of the new law that have already been found to be Constitutional, like the requirement that abortionists maintain privileges with a hospital within 30 miles of their clinics. These portions of the law should not be enjoined while other parts of the law are challenged. Women deserve the legal protections of the law now.”

Abortion practitioners Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser sued to block the clinic licensing law from taking effect. They were joined by the troubled Aid For Women abortion business, which failed to pass the inspection required for licensing under the new law. Hodes and Nauser refused to submit to an inspection.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s rules will also become the subject of a September 7 hearing as they can only remain in effect for four months without public input. The five-member State Rules and Regulations Board approved the rules so the health department can begin enforcing them  but the injunction prevents them from being implemented.

Cheryl Pilate, an attorney for the Aid for Women  abortion business in Kansas City that already lost its license, complained that the rules should not go into effect without first getting public input.

“It’s really ironic that the regulations have not even been given the final stamp of approval,” she told AP. “There really is no other word for it than, `absurd.’”

Mary Spaulding Balch of the National Right to Life Committee told AP she thinks the laws will be upheld as they have in other states.

“I don’t think you have to prove that some of these facilities are substandard or not,” she said. “I think you just have to show the state has in an interest in making sure they are not.”

The Aid for Women abortion facility lost the license and an attorney for the abortion center received a notice that its application for a license had been denied by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. Cheryl Pilate indicated Aid for Women would have to close at least temporarily while it pursues its legal options.

The Planned Parenthood in Overland Park faced two days of inspections by state health officials who found it to be in compliance with the new state regulations. But the Women’s Health Center appears as if it will close down because it can’t ensure it will adequately protect women’s health.

“We’re doomed,” said its abortion practitioner Herbert Hodes, according to a Fox News report.

Mary Kay Culp with Kansans for Life told Fox that the new law is appropriate, especially if abortion businesses want to meet their claim that they actually care about the health of women.

“They’re known more as an abortion mill, in the front door, out the back door as quick as they can get them out,” she said of Aid for Women. They don’t have the room to keep anybody the proper amount of time to do good monitoring.”

“It’s chosen by a vulnerable young woman inside a clinic in a crisis time in her life amongst people who are going to make money if she chooses it, and who are accountable to no one up to this point,” Culp said.

Meanwhile, Kathy Ostrowski, of Kansans for Life, says Aid for Women has never had the best interests of women in mind.

“For many years, abortion businesses in Kansas have claimed to legislative committees that they do not need state oversight and that they already adhere to high industry standards,” she explained. “Ironically, most provisions in the new Kansas law were taken from the published standards of the National Abortion Federation. To that was added requirements that any abortion must be done by a Kansas-licensed physician with local hospital privileges, and that chemical abortion pills must not be provided via computer.”

She also maintains the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld these kinds of regulations, in the case Greenville Women’s Clinic v. Bryant, 222 F.3d 157 (4th Cir.2000).

“The U.S. Supreme Court did not take the Greenville lower court case for review, and let stand the ruling that South Carolina state standards for licensing abortion clinics ARE constitutional.  The court found the state’s regulations: did not impose an undue burden on the right to seek abortion; do serve a valid purpose in safeguarding the health of women; had a rational basis for regulating abortion clinics, while not regulating other healthcare facilities, [noting that] abortions are “inherently different from other medical procedures, because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.”

“The South Carolina standards –upheld as constitutional– are actually more stringent than the new Kansas law,” Ostrowski said. The South Carolina regulations are responsible for cutting abortions by one-half in the state.