US District Court Judge Carlos Murguia blocked a law that would have shut down all but one abortion provider, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, in the state. Murguia said there was evidence the clinics would “suffer irreparable harm” by being forced to close, and questioned whether the rules “rationally related” to patient health.
The law 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 new regulations were sent out in mid-June by Governor Sam Brownback’s administration to abortion providers, which were then required to comply by July 1. The list of requirements is approximately 36 pages and stipulates 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).
Anti-Abortion activists in Kansas have not slowed in their effort to impose a de facto ban on abortion. Kansas Coalition for Life started collecting signatures on a petition Tuesday calling for a special session of the legislature to prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable. Since that happens at around the seventh week, when many women do not even know they are pregnant yet, the law would directly challenge the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, which allows women to obtain abortion services until fetal viability at 22-24 weeks.