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Mon July 4, 2011
Judge Blocks New Abortion Licensing Regs in Kansas.
By Elana Gordon
KANSAS CITY, Ks. – A federal judge has temporarily blocked Kansas from enforcing new abortion regulations that took effect Friday. The regulations, which are temporary, would have prevented two of the state's three abortion providers from continuing to offer such services.
A new law in Kansas requires that abortion providers be licensed by the state. Health officials issued the updated licensing rules June 17. Planned Parenthood was the only place granted a license.
The other two providers - Aid for Women and the Center for Women's Health - filed a federal lawsuit last week, alleging the new rules were too burdensome and were issued too quickly.
In court, the state attorney general's office argued there was no good reason to stop the licensing process and that unlicensed clinics could still do up to five emergency abortions a month. They also said the Planned Parenthood license disproved claims that the rules were solely designed to shut down abortion services.
U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia ruled the providers showed sufficient evidence for their case, and issued a temporary injunction on the new rules until the lawsuit goes to trial.
Dr. Herbert Hodes, of the Center for Women's health, says the ruling is a big win for him and his patients.
"We're extremely pleased, we think this is the correct ruling," says Dr. Hodes. "And it's not for us, it's for the women of the Midwest and the United States.
Mary Kay Culp, Executive Director of the anti-abortion group, Kansans for Life, says the outcome of the hearing didn't surprise her.
"It's disappointing and yet the judge really emphasized that this was early in the process and that there was no record established," says Culp. "So that's good."
The start date of the trial will be scheduled August 16. In the meantime, state health officials say they'll continue the process of developing permanent licensing regulations for abortion providers over the next three months.
Kansas is one of four states this year to enact legislation imposing new rules on abortion providers. According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly two dozen states have introduced such legislation.
Funding for health care coverage on KCUR has been provided by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.
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