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Plaintiffs in KS Abortion Suit Seek Less Stringent Clinic Regulations

In Kansas, Dr. Herbert Hodes, and his daughter, Dr. Traci Nauser, who sought an injunction in July in an effort to keep their medical practice open, indicated that they would consider dropping their lawsuit if Kansas state health officials withdrew some of the state’s arbitrary and hastily-imposed regulations for abortion providers. In July, US District Court Judge Carlos Murguia blocked the law from going into effect until the case is settled. The law would have shut down all but one abortion provider in the state: Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. The Center for Reproductive Rights is representing Drs. Hodes and Nauser in court.

The law, signed by Governor Sam Brownback (R) in May, requires that abortion providers be licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, which is authorized to regulate buildings and equipment for abortion clinics and to conduct inspections of the clinics twice yearly. The list of regulations, which is approximately 36 pages long, was sent out in mid-June by Brownback’s administration to abortion providers, which were then required to comply by July 1. The regulations stipulate hundreds of details including the minimum square footage of janitors’ closets and the temperature range for procedure and recovery rooms (68 to 73 degrees and 70 to 75 degrees, respectively).

In order for Drs. Hodes and Nauser’s practice, the Center for Women’s Health to receive licensure, it would need to undergo extensive structural renovations. In an interview on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Dr. Hodes and Dr. Nauser said they were given the new regulations on June 13. They then submitted their application for a license on June 14. On June 20, they were given new architectural regulations, issued not by the Department of Health but by the Attorney General. They considered these “sham” regulations and “restrictions no one could comply with.”

National Partnership for Women and Families 9/8/11; Wichita Eagle 9/7/11; Feminist Daily Newswire 7/6/11, 7/1/11, 6/23/11

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