Kansas Judge Blocks Abortion Clinic Regs

| Fri Jul. 1, 2011 5:51 PM EDT

A judge in Kansas has blocked the state's strict new regulations on abortion providers from taking effect, a move that will allow all three clinics in the state to continue offering services, the Kansas City Star reports.

On Friday afternoon, U.S District Judge Carlos Murguia granted a request from two clinics—Aid for Women in Kansas City and the Center for Women's Health in Overland Park—to grant temporary relief from the new rules, which took effect July 1. The clinics were denied a license to continue operating after the state issued new rules on June 17 that would have required both clinics to make major changes to their facilities. A third clinic, owned by Planned Parenthood, was granted a license to continue operating on Thursday.

The injunction will remain in place until the court hears the formal challenge to the state's regulations.

"This is a tremendous victory for women in Kansas and against the underhanded efforts of anti-choice politicians to shut down abortion providers in the state," said Center for Reproductive Rights president Nancy Northup, which joined with the clinics in filing the legal challenge to the law, in a statement Friday evening. "The facts were clear—this licensing process had absolutely nothing to do with patient health or safety and everything to do with political shenanigans."

The Kansas legislature passed a new law in April creating a new designation for abortion providers under the state's licensing system, and directed the Department of Health and Environment to issue new rules. The department issued 36-pages of rules on June 17 (though the clinics did not receive copies until June 20), mandating things like the size of waiting and recovery rooms, the number of bathrooms, and the required temperatures for each room in the facility. Clinic owners argued that it was impossible to meet the new standards, given that they were released just two weeks before the clinics were required to comply. Moreover, they argued, the rules had little to do with protecting patients and were designed to shut down the clinics.

This type of law, often called "targeted regulation of abortion providers," or "TRAP" laws, isn't exactly new or unique, but Kansas' would have gone farther than others in actually shutting down abortion providers.