Kansas Closes All But One Abortion Provider
New guidelines from the Kansas Health Department have forced all but one of the abortion clinics in Kansas to close—and there are only three left in the entire state. As of today, only Planned Parenthood remains licensed.
The Kansas state legislature created new standards for abortion clinics in Kansas, but the clinics haven't had enough time since their introduction to implement them by the July 1 deadline.
Dionne Scott of the Center for Reproductive Rights says, "The Kansas health department set up a classic catch-22 for abortion providers—you can't get a license if you don't meet the requirements, but there's no way you can meet the requirements in the time you’re given."
According to Scott, the state's health department is requiring renovations that would take a lot of time to both get an estimate for and complete. They include physical changes to the size of the facilities and were released less than two weeks before they were expected to be implemented. "These requirements are not designed to protect patient safety, but to shut down abortion providers," Scott says.
While proponents of the new clinic regulations argue that they will protect the safety of women—and that the majority of Kansans support this kind of legislation—one University of Kansas student says, "I have friends who rely on Planned Parenthood as their only affordable means of access to birth control since they weren't able to ask for their parents' help. But Republicans have begun to equate Planned Parenthood with one issue: abortion."
This isn't the only recent anti-choice victory in Kansas, either.
- The Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act makes it difficult for a minor to have an abortion in Kansas without the consent of her parents.
- HB 2218, or the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, prohibits abortions after 20 weeks except to save the life of the mother or when medically necessary—even though the Supreme Court has ruled abortions are allowed until fetal viability, which is generally thought to be at 24 weeks—because it is now state policy that fetuses feel pain. Meanwhile, researchers at Harvard have recently found that "there is no conclusive evidence that fetuses can feel pain at that point in gestation, nor are they considered viable." If a woman has an abortion in violation of HB 2218, the father of the so-called "unborn child" or, in the case that the woman is not 18, her parents, can sue her for monetary damages caused by psychological injuries.
Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that Kansas has violated its free speech and due process rights by preventing it from receiving federal family planning funds (one of the provisions of the new regulations) and another Kansas clinic has filed a lawsuit to block enforcement of the new legislation.
"Women deserve to have access to this legal procedure," says the University of Kansas student. "The state government should not be using legislation to restrict this access through arbitrary requirements implemented not for women’s safety, but as a means to shut down our state's only three abortion clinics. The use of legislation to shut down Kansas abortion clinics is not only unacceptable and unethical, but also makes me ashamed of my state."
Dahlia Grossman-Heinze is a reporter-blogger for Campus Progress. Follow her on Twitter @salvadordahlia.