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Aid for Women v. Foulston

The Center for Reproductive Rights initiated this case in 2003 after then-Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline issued an opinion that construed the State's child-abuse reporting statute to require doctors, nurses, school counselors, psychotherapists, and others to report as a potential victim of child abuse any adolescent under the age of 16 whom the provider suspected had engaged in any form of sexual contact, even if the contact was consensual and took place with a peer.  Kline’s opinion was so sweeping that it would have required, for example, health care providers to report any patient under 16 who sought contraception or a pregnancy test, and psychologists to report every patient under 16 who discussed feelings about a "make out session" or other sexual contact with a boyfriend or girlfriend.  Such a requirement would seriously threaten the potential for trusting relationship between young people and the professionals who seek to serve them, and it would drive young people away from the reproductive and sexual health-care services and information that they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies, protect their mental and physical health, and avoid sexually transmissible diseases.

Filing date: 10/03/2003

Plaintiff(s):  Aid for Women, on its own behalf; and Teri Augustus, L.M.S.W.; Margot Breckbill, R.N.; Tracy Cowles, M.D.; Willow Eby, R.N.; Vicki Epp, L.B.S.W.; Margaret Estrin, M.D.; Herbert Hodes, M.D.; Traci Nauser, M.D.; Colleen O’Donnell, R.N.-C; Stacey Morgan, D.O.; Beth McGilley, Ph.D.; Trina Wheeler, L.M.S.W.; and Sherman Zaremski, M.D., on behalf of themselves and their adolescent patients and clients under the age of sixteen, and as representatives of a class of similarly situated individuals

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys:  Laura B. Shaneyfelt (Wichita Local Counsel)

Background: The Center for Reproductive Rights brought this suit on behalf of a diverse group of healthcare and counseling professionals who work with teens, and who sought to protect those teens’ privacy and access to health and counseling services.   The suit alleged that it would violate teens’ right to informational privacy to require health and counseling professionals to report consensual sexual contact between teen peers when the professional does not suspect that either teen has been injured by the contact.

After a week-long trial, the District Court ruled in our favor, permanently enjoining the State from enforcing Kline's interpretation of the state’s child abuse reporting law.  The State appealed, but its appeal was subsequently dismissed after the Kansas Legislature amended the language of the child abuse reporting law in a way that made clear that it could not be applied in the manner proposed by Kline’s opinion.

State: 
KS
Status: 
Closed
Owner: 
The Center