Lawsuit details health department’s “sham licensing process”
(PRESS RELEASE) Today, the Center
for Reproductive Rights filed a federal lawsuit challenging new licensing
regulations for abortion providers. The challenge was filed on behalf of the
private OB/GYN practice operated by Dr. Herbert Hodes and Dr. Traci Nauser in
Overland Park. Under the new law, providers must meet a number of extensive new
standards in order to become licensed by the state. Plaintiffs cannot meet
these requirements without rebuilding their office from the ground up,
including 150 square feet procedure rooms, 300 square feet of storage space for
janitor’s supplies, and designated dressing rooms for staff that already come
to the office in their work clothes. The regulations take effect on July 1, and
could force Dr. Hodes and Dr. Nauser, and the two other Kansas abortions
providers to stop providing abortion services.
“Between the rigid and unnecessary
building standards and the absurd deadlines, this licensing process is a
complete sham,” Nancy
Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Our clients have a long record of providing safe
and high-quality OB/GYN care, including abortion services, to women over the
last thirty years. These regulations have
nothing to do with safety standards, and everything to do with an aggressive
anti-choice government trying to shut down abortion providers.”
lawsuit outlines a detailed timeline in which the Kansas Department of Health
issued onerous, new regulations without giving the plaintiffs notice or an opportunity
to be heard, and imposed unattainable deadlines:
- On June 9, the department sent the
plaintiffs an initial draft of regulations and asked that the regulations be
reviewed and compliance documented by June 17. This draft did not dictate
specific dimensions or locations for rooms.
- On June 13, the agency informed the
plaintiffs that the regulations had been changed by the Attorney General’s
office, but they did not provide a copy or indicate what changes had been made.
- On Friday, June 17, , the agency
issued the final regulations, after business hours. This time the document included
numerous, rigid physical facility requirements that are impossible for an
existing medical office to meet.
- The agency refused to grant the plaintiffs
temporary licenses based on existing law or provide them the opportunity to
request waivers of any of the new requirements.
The Center argues that the regulations
and licensing process violate the due process rights of plaintiffs, and place
an undue burden on their patients by effectively banning the performance of
abortions at most, if not all, of the facilities that currently provide those
services. In addition, the lawsuit argues that the new rules and licensing
process are irrational, medically unnecessary, and impose more stringent
requirements than those imposed on other providers of office-based surgeries,
and in some cases, more stringent than those imposed on hospitals and
ambulatory surgery centers.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Kansas on behalf of the Overland Park private OB/GYN practice of
The Center for Women’s Health operated by father-daughter team Dr. Herbert
Hodes and Dr. Traci Nauser.