This post first appeared online at The Atlantic Wire on June 30, 2011.
Kansas Now Has a Single Abortion Provider
by Elspeth Reeve
Update: Thursday night, Kansas issued a license to one abortion provider, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, near Kansas City, so it could continue to operate, The New York Times‘ A.G. Sulzberger reports. Right now, the facility is the only abortion provider in the state. The state’s two other clinics were forced to shut their doors due to swiftly-passed regulations and will be in court Friday seeking an injunction to stop the law.
Original post: Kansas gave the three abortion clinics operating in the state two weeks to comply with strict new regulations of their facilities. On Friday, July 1, time runs out. Unless a judge intervenes, the three clinics will close, meaning no woman in the state will be able to get the legal medical procedure.
As Mother Jones‘ Kate Sheppard explains, the new laws “require changes to the size and number of rooms, compel clinics to have additional supplies on hand, and even mandate room temperatures for the facilities,”–which would essentially require a ground-up remodeling of the buildings. Two clinics have filed suit in federal court, and a hearing is scheduled for Friday afternoon, the Kansas City Star‘s Brad Cooper reports.
The new rules are temporary and were passed in an expedited process, Cooper explains. They’ll remain in effect for 120 days to allow time for public comment; a public hearing is scheduled for September 7. And, as the Wichita Eagle’s Phillip Brownlee reports, the clinics didn’t get the final version of the regulations until last week, and inspections began immediately. The swift pace makes “it looks like a backdoor way to try to close clinics,” Browlee says. Feministing’s Samhita agrees, writing that the laws were “obviously created to deny any woman in Kansas from having access to abortion.” But Cooper says opponents of abortion counter that “the rules are necessary to protect women who aren’t as likely to complain about malpractice for an abortion as they are another procedure.”
Abortion could be a major issue in the 2012 elections, The Washington Post‘s Rachel Weiner writes. Democrats and Republicans waged an extended battle over funding for the health provider during budget negotiations earlier this year, and the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, is trying to get all Republican presidential candidates to sign its pledge defunding Planned Parenthood. Polls show a majority of Americans don’t want to cut off funding to the organization, but a majority also doesn’t want any federal money going to abortions.