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State Court Blocks Kansas Law Criminalizing Doctors for Providing Safe, Common Abortion Method

(PRESS RELEASE) Earlier today, a state court judge blocked a Kansas law banning the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester—a law that could force some women to undergo an additional invasive unnecessary medical procedure even against the medical judgment of her physician.

Judge Larry Hendricks ruled from the bench during a temporary injunction hearing today, deciding to block the law as the case proceeds.

“For now, the court has protected Kansas doctors from being thrown behind bars for providing the safe, quality, and individualized care their patients need and deserve,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights.  “Women, with their trusted physicians, have a right to make the very personal, private decision to end a pregnancy without political meddling. We will continue fighting this law until it is permanently struck down as a clear violation of women’s rights and the doctor-patient relationship.”

The Center for Reproductive Rights challenged the Kansas measure earlier this month on behalf of a father-daughter team of board certified ob-gyns with 40 years of combined experience in comprehensive women’s health care.  Their practice is only one of three providers of abortion in Kansas.   

The measure, which was slated to take effect on July 1, represents an unprecedented attack on women’s health, personal autonomy, and the doctor-patient relationship, potentially forcing physicians to subject women seeking safe and legal abortion services in the second trimester to an additional invasive unnecessary procedure. Kansas Governor Brownback signed SB 95 in April 2015 over the objections of local and national medical experts, including over 20 area physicians.

The Kansas measure is the first of its kind, though one week after Governor Brownback signed SB 95Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a similar restriction into law.

Major medical groups oppose political interference and medically unnecessary procedures similar to what is found in SB 95.  In opposing invasive, forced ultrasound laws, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) noted “[i]n no other area of medicine are physicians required to breach medical ethics by subjecting a patient to a medical procedure that the patient does not want to undergo and which is not medically appropriate or necessary.”

Kansas women already face myriad obstacles when attempting to access basic reproductive health care services, including a 24 hour mandatory delay for women seeking safe and legal abortion and restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion services.  Rather than focusing on increasing the number of policies that are known to support women and children, politicians in Kansas have spent their time enacting abortion restrictions that do nothing to improve women’s health and safety.

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