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Kansas Won’t Enforce Its New Law on Medication Abortions for at Least 5 Weeks

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Kansas officials have agreed not to enforce a new restriction on medication abortions for at least five weeks before a state court judge decides whether to put it on hold until he decides a lawsuit challenging it and other existing rules.

Providers and their attorneys announced the agreement Tuesday. For now, providers will not have to tell patients they can stop a medication abortion using a regimen that providers and major medical groups consider unproven and potentially dangerous. The new rule was set to take effect July 1.

The agreement, filed Friday in Johnson County District Court in the Kansas City area, does not prevent the state from enforcing other, existing restrictions the providers have challenged, including a requirement that patients wait 24 hours after seeing a doctor in person to terminate their pregnancies. District Judge K. Christopher Jayaram has set an Aug. 8 hearing to consider whether the newest restriction or others should be blocked while the lawsuit is pending.

The providers — a clinic in the Kansas City suburbs in Johnson County operated by Planned Parenthood Great Plains and another nearby clinic and its two doctors — hope to overturn all of the state’s requirements for what providers must tell patients. The information must be given to patients 24 hours in advance of their abortions, in writing and in a specific size and kind of type.

The lawsuit alleges Kansas has a “Biased Counseling Scheme” meant to discourage patients from having abortions and to stigmatize those who do. But, for providers, the urgent task was stopping the latest requirement before it took effect, said Alice Wang, an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“This buys the court and it buys us some more time to litigate that in full while the status quo remains in effect,” Wang said.

For more than a decade, abortion opponents have touted a medication “reversal” regimen developed by a veteran California doctor using the hormone progesterone, long given to prevent miscarriages.

The new Kansas law was set to take effect less than a year after a decisive August 2022 statewide vote affirming abortion rights. The Republican-controlled Legislature enacted it over Democrat Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto.

Abortion opponents argue the state’s “Woman’s Right to Know Act” requirements help patients make informed decisions and give them a source of information other than the clinics themselves. They argue that the new medication “reversal” law informs patients of an option if they’re still unsure about ending their pregnancies even after taking the first dose of abortion medication.

“The new portions are only temporarily delayed during the first phase of litigation,” Republican state Attorney General Kris Kobach said in a statement. “The parties have agreed that this is the most efficient way to proceed.”

The defendants in the lawsuit include Kobach; the Johnson County district attorney, and the district attorney in Sedgwick County, in the Wichita area, who could prosecute violations of the new law. Five of the state’s six abortion clinics are in one of those two counties.

Also sued were the chairman and top staffer of the state’s medical board, which can suspend or revoke doctors’ licenses for breaking state law.


Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.



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