Late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia temporarily blocked the state of Kansas from enforcing new regulations created under the guise of “protecting women,” but in fact aimed at shutting clinics and medical offices providing abortion care.
The regulations, an example of what are known as Targeted Regulations for Abortion Providers or TRAP laws, would require clinics to meet medically unnecessary conditions to maintain their operating licences, by for example mandating specific sizes for a janitorial closet.
The new law would require hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices to obtain an annual license from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to perform more than five non-emergency abortions in a month. The regulations tell abortion providers what drugs and equipment they must stock and, among other things, establish minimum sizes and acceptable temperatures for procedure and recovery rooms.
The injunction will remain in effect until a trial is held in a lawsuit challenging the Kansas rules. The new law and regulations would otherwise have taken effect on Friday and would have resulted in closure of two out of three clinics offering abortion in Kansas for failure to meet what were hastily crafted and changing regulations. The lawsuit was filed was filed earlier this week by Drs. Hodes and Nauser of the Center for Women’s Health, Aid for Women in Kansas City, and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. PPKM withdrew from the suit yesterday when it was able to prove it met even the most unreasonable criteria and received a license from the state board.
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In blocking the law, according to NPR, Murguia said evidence presented in court documents showed the providers would “suffer irreparable harm” through the loss of business and patients, and that at least two women currently seeking abortions would be harmed by not being able to go to the provider of their choice.
We are pleased that U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia has put an injunction on the onerous rules and regulations put in place by the Kansas Legislature and Governor Brownback. This will enable the court system to adequately assess the true intent of this law. Currently, as the rules and regulations are written, they do very little to ensure equitable health care for Kansas women; but rather, these regulations prevent pregnant women from receiving quality health care.
Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, the organization which brought the lawsuit on behalf of Drs. Hodes and Nauser, said:
This is a tremendous victory for women in Kansas and against the underhanded efforts of anti-choice politicians to shut down abortion providers in the state. The facts were clear—this licensing process had absolutely nothing to do with patient health or safety and everything to do with political ideology.
Still, as Northup noted, the case isn’t over yet, and neither is the assault on women’s most fundamental rights.