Antiabortion-Rights Doctors Group Files Appeal in Kan. Abortion Clinic Lawsuit

August 4, 2011 — The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists on Monday appealed a federal court order that blocks enforcement of a new Kansas law requiring abortion clinics to meet certain building standards, obtain licenses and undergo inspections, the AP/NECN reports. The Michigan-based doctors group filed a motion to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit and submitted a notice of its appeal of the injunction. The group said it has legal standing in the lawsuit because its members in Kansas are losing business to abortion clinics and placed at a competitive disadvantage because costs associated with abortion are passed on to them if complications ensue (Hegeman, AP/NECN, 8/2).

The Kansas 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).

The Center for Reproductive Rights, whose lawyers are representing the abortion providers who filed the lawsuit, said they do not believe AAPLOG can appeal the court's decision because it is not a party in the case. The lawyers said they plan to oppose the motion to intervene.

"In any case, the court granted an appropriate injunctive based on the clear evidence that the defendants' actions had nothing to do with patient health or safety and everything to do with political shenanigans," Bonnie Scott Jones, deputy director for CRR, said. "We feel confident that any appeal of that ruling would be unsuccessful," she added.

Murguia has not yet ruled on AAPLOG's request to intervene. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday put the appeal on its docket and assigned it a court number (AP/NECN, 8/2).