Kansas Law Shutting Abortion Clinics Faces New Lawsuit

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 27, 2011   |   5:28PM   |   Topeka, KS

A New York-based pro-abortion law firm has filed a new lawsuit against a Kansas law the state legislature approved earlier this year that has already resulted in temporarily closing one abortion center and may result in the closing of two others that may fail to meet the new health and safety standards it requires.

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 state health department has an 18-page checklist with more than 200 criteria abortion centers must meet in order to remain in compliance with the law. Abortion facilities must obtain an annual license from the health department and explain to officials the drugs and equipment used.

The law faced one lawsuit filed by the law firm this summer but the Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a second suit on behalf of abortion practitioner Herbert Hodes and his daughter Traci Nauser, who does abortions at her facility in Overland Park. The second suit came because the state revised the regulations and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment was preparing to enforce them.

“The first version of the rules told providers what drugs and equipment they must stock and set minimum size requirements for procedure and recovery rooms. The department recently revised the rules, paring down the list of drugs and equipment required and dropping specific sizes for rooms. The state published the revised regulations Thursday and they are set to take effect next month,” AP indicated in a report. “A federal judge blocked enforcement of the original regulations until a trial of the doctors’ lawsuit. Learning last week that revised regulations would take effect Nov. 14, the judge ordered the parties in the lawsuit to analyze the differences between the two sets of rules.”

The Aid for Women abortion facility in Kansas City has lost its license to do abortions in Kansas as it was one of the three states that did not meet the regulations put in place by the state legislature this session. 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 two abortion practitioners, Herbert Hodes and his daughter Traci Nauser, have filed a federal lawsuit in the filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City alleging that the new law is a “sham” that is purposefully designed to shut down the three abortion facilities in the state. The law is slated to officially go into effect on Friday and any abortion business that doesn’t have a license from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s indicating it has met the new regulations will have to close.

Hodes and Nauser do abortions at the Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park.

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.”