10.30.23 (PRESS RELEASE) – Today, a Kansas state court judge blocked several onerous restrictions on abortion, including laws that force providers to give government-scripted misinformation to patients, threaten patients’ health, and undermine medical ethics. The laws blocked today also made abortion care harder to access by imposing arbitrary waiting periods that delayed care.
Laws that the Court blocked today include:
- A requirement that patients receive inaccurate state-mandated information before getting an abortion, including medically unfounded statements that abortion poses a “risk of premature birth in future pregnancies” and “risk of breast cancer.”
- A new law requiring providers to relay to patients at least five times that it may be possible to reverse a medication abortion—a false, and potentially dangerous, claim unsupported by scientific evidence.
- Arbitrary bureaucratic requirements that certain state-mandated information be received by patients in printed form, in specific typeface, font size, and color at least 24 hours in advance of an abortion, delaying access to time-sensitive health care.
- A medically unnecessary rule forcing patients to also wait 30 minutes after meeting with their abortion provider before they may receive abortion care.
The lawsuit was filed in June by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Planned Parenthood on behalf of Kansas abortion providers. They argue that these restrictions violate the state constitution, including the rights to abortion and free speech.
In his ruling, Judge Krishnan Christopher Jayaram recognized that the set of laws violates patients’ fundamental right to abortion and providers’ right to free speech. He wrote that the restrictions only serve to “stigmatize the procedure and instill fear in patients that are contemplating an abortion, such that they make an alternative choice, based upon disproven and unsupportable claims.”
“Forcing medical providers to give patients government-scripted misinformation violates the state constitution and medical ethics,” said Alice Wang, Staff Attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights. “The court recognized that today and removed these paternalistic barriers that have restricted access to abortion for far too long. These restrictions are especially harmful now that Roe v. Wade was overturned, and Kansas clinics are overwhelmed with patients from neighboring states where abortion is banned. Abortion is a human right and Kansans deserve accurate, candid medical information.”
“This ruling represents a hard-fought win for our patients all across Kansas and in neighboring states where abortion is banned,” said Dr. Traci Lynn Nauser. “While there is still a long road ahead to ensure that Kansans are able to access timely abortion care without facing barriers, we are grateful that we can continue to provide accurate, patient-centered information to those who trust us with their care. Kansans deserve the best health care possible, and that includes open and truthful communication with their doctors without political scripting.”
“This victory is a rebuke of misinformation and a win for supporters of reproductive rights everywhere,” said Alexis McGill Johnson, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Kansans made it clear last year that they support access to abortion, which includes the freedom to receive timely care without being subjected to state-mandated inaccurate information from their medical provider. Today’s ruling allows providers to give their patients the quality care they deserve, reduces the stigma and misinformation around abortion , and does away with arbitrary restrictions that only serve to control people. We are proud to stand beside Kansans in the fight to protect and expand abortion access.”
“Each day these restrictions were in effect, we have been forced to turn away patients for reasons that are medically wrong and ethically unjustifiable,” said Emily Wales, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains. “Today’s ruling is a crucial step in achieving what Kansans emphatically supported in August 2022: abortion access without political interference. No patient should be denied care because they printed a form in the wrong color, but that is precisely what these laws have mandated us to do. Over the past year, Kansas has served as a regional provider of care, and these restrictions have only compounded a public health crisis. At the same time, lawmakers continually disregarded the will of Kansans by passing more restrictions on abortion care, including one that would have forced providers to lie to patients with dangerous information about so-called medication abortion reversal. While this victory allows our patients to seek the timely care they deserve, we recognize many barriers to equitable access remain in this part of the country. Despite the challenges of the post-Dobbs landscape, we’ll do as we’ve always done, provide our patients with expert care informed by best medical practices. And tomorrow, when patients arrive from wherever they may call home, our first question will be about care and not font size.”
Last year, Kansas voters overwhelmingly rejected efforts to eliminate the fundamental right to abortion under the state constitution. There have been hearings on multiple abortion-related laws in Kansas this year, including a ban on the most common method of abortion after approximately 14-15 weeks of pregnancy, called dilation and evacuation (D&E).
Fighting these laws are the Center for Reproductive Rights, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Arnold & Porter, Hunter Law Group, and Teresa Woody on behalf of plaintiffs Hodes & Nauser, M.D.s, P.A.; Traci Lynn Nauser, M.D.; Tristan Fowler, D.O.; and Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood Great Plains.
Center for Reproductive Rights: [email protected]
Planned Parenthood Federation of America: [email protected]
Planned Parenthood Great Plains: [email protected]