Two Dangerous and Misleading Provisions of New Kansas Anti-Abortion Law Blocked by State Court

Center for Reproductive Rights pledges to continue fight against all parts of law

(PRESS RELEASE) A Kansas district court judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking two of the most egregious provisions of a new Kansas law encompassing nearly 50 pages of unconstitutional and discriminatory restrictions on the provision of abortion care and the rights of women and their reproductive health care providers.

The provisions enjoined by the judge’s order include one that callously redefines what constitutes a medical emergency in a way that would require many pregnant women in life-threatening situations to wait at least 24 hours before obtaining emergency abortion care—including women who are hemorrhaging, suffering from a serious infection, or facing an ectopic pregnancy about to rupture—and another that requires doctors to endorse anti-abortion propaganda forced on their patients by the state as "objective, nonjudgmental, and scientifically accurate.

"But doctors will still have to provide medically inaccurate information to their patients seeking an abortion when the law goes into effect on July 1. Other provisions not enjoined by today’s order impose discriminatory tax penalties on abortion patients, abortion providers, and others who facilitate access to abortion services, and even prohibit abortion providers from chaperoning their schoolchildren's field trips or otherwise acting as school district representatives. 

Said Julie Rikelman, litigation director for the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Today's ruling is an important victory, protecting the women of Kansas from the most dangerous and misleading provisions of the Kansas legislature's latest attack on their health and rights.

“However, it leaves in place other provisions that unconstitutionally discriminate against women and their doctors and seek to prevent them from exercising their fundamental right to make their own decisions about their health, families, and future free of the interference of hostile politicians pushing an ideological agenda.

"We will continue our campaign to ensure that all parts of the law are permanently overturned."

The Center filed the lawsuit, Hodes & Nauser MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt, in state court on June 21, 2013, on behalf of Dr. Herbert Hodes and Dr. Traci Nauser, a father-daughter medical team that provides a full range of ob-gyn services in Overland Park, Kan. 

Among other restrictions enacted as part of HB 2253, which was signed into law by Kansas Governor Sam Brownback on April 19, the law:

  • compels physicians to provide abortion patients with false and misleading information about abortion and vouch for its accuracy;
  • requires abortion providers to hang massive signs in their offices, effectively turning their office walls into a billboard for the government's message;
  • imposes special tax liability on abortion patients, abortion providers, and others who facilitate access to abortion services, including employers who offer coverage for abortion in employee health benefit plans;
  • denies abortion providers protection against discrimination by state agencies that is afforded to other healthcare providers;
  • bans abortion providers from working or volunteering in public schools;
  • bans University of Kansas Medical School faculty members from teaching medical students and residents how to perform abortions, even when on property not owned by the state; and
  • eliminates coverage of medically-necessary abortion services from public health insurance plans.

Drs. Hodes and Nauser are both board certified ob-gyns that have been providing a full range of reproductive health care—including annual exams, childbirth, contraception, fertility treatments, and abortion services—to their patients for more than 40 years collectively.

The Center is also currently litigating a 2011 Kansas' law on behalf of Drs. Hodes and Nauser that would impose unreasonable and unnecessary licensing regulations aimed at shuttering most, if not all, Kansas abortion providers. That law has been blocked by a state judge since the lawsuit was filed in November 2011. 

Stephanie Toti, senior staff attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, is lead counsel on the case. Also representing the plaintiffs are local counsel Teresa Woody, The Woody Law Firm PC; Kent Yalowitz, Laura W. Tejeda and Meredith Esser of Arnold & Porter LLP and Rene M. Netherton in Topeka, KS.