Plaintiffs Testify at Hearing on Kan. Abortion Clinic Regulations

September 8, 2011 — Two physicians would consider dropping their lawsuit against new abortion clinic regulations in Kansas if the state agrees to scale back the requirements, Center for Reproductive Rights attorney Bonnie Scott Jones said on Wednesday, the AP/Wichita Eagle reports (Hanna, AP/Wichita Eagle, 9/7).

The law authorizes the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to write standards for buildings and equipment, issue annual licenses for abortion clinics, fine clinics for non-compliance and go to court to close clinics. The standards include stipulations regarding the sizes of rooms and closets, room temperature settings, and stocking of drugs and supplies.

The law was supposed to take effect on July 1, but U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia blocked the measure until the lawsuit is resolved. Murguia questioned whether state officials could show that the KDHE rules were "rationally related" to protecting patients (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/6). According to the AP/Wichita Eagle, the health department initially declined to hold a public hearing on the regulations as a way to speed up the law's enactment. If the department does not hold hearings, the requirements will expire on Oct. 29.

At a public hearing Wednesday, Jones and other attorneys representing abortion providers asked state health officials to rewrite the rules so that they are less specific and onerous. Jones said the regulations are "not a done deal" but could be rewritten to prevent the lawsuit from continuing. Meanwhile, abortion-rights opponents said that women who obtain abortions are unlikely to report problems to state regulators or sue out of shame over terminating a pregnancy. They also said the regulations are balanced and sensible.

KDHE spokesperson Miranda Myrick said the suggestions will be considered (AP/Wichita Eagle, 9/7).