Kan. Abortion Providers To Proceed With Lawsuit Over Abortion Clinic Regulations

October 28, 2011 — Unsatisfied with Kansas' final version of abortion clinic regulations, three of the state's abortion providers plan to challenge the matter in court, the AP/Washington Post reports. According to the plaintiffs' attorneys, the revised regulations -- slated to take effect Nov. 14 -- still impose "irrational" requirements on abortion providers (AP/Washington Post, 10/27).

The regulations are part of a new law that requires abortion clinics to undergo inspections and obtain licenses. In July, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia issued a temporary injunction against the law until a trial is held in a lawsuit filed by two abortion providers. The law would have authorized the health department to write standards for buildings and equipment, issue annual licenses for clinics, fine clinics for non-compliance and go to court to close clinics.

The final version of the rules remove earlier specifications for room sizes, allow clinics more flexibility in setting room temperatures and lower the number of required medications and equipment that must be stocked. However, most of the provisions are unchanged, including rules that require abortion providers to have privileges at local hospitals and permit the state health department to review patients' medical records (Women's Health Policy Report, 10/24).

"They made some important changes, which is good, but unfortunately, they have left a lot in that is unacceptable," Bonnie Scott Jones, a Center for Reproductive Rights attorney representing a Kansas abortion clinic, said. She added, "They're still extremely burdensome in multiple ways, so they still do need to be challenged."

Jones said the regulations retain a rule stipulating that only physicians may administer drugs, which would prevent physician assistants from providing over-the-counter pain medications. Cheryl Pilate, another plaintiffs' attorney, said the permanent rules include "medically unnecessary restrictions," such as a requirement that patients stay in recovery rooms for up to one hour.

Kansas Department of Health and Environment spokesperson Miranda Steele said the state "will move forward as we can legally, however we need to do our jobs within the rule of law" (AP/Washington Post, 10/27).