Kansas board approves new abortion rules

by
July 1, 2011

By John Hanna-Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A normally obscure board in Kansas unanimously approved new regulations Thursday for abortion providers, moving the state closer to becoming the first in the nation without a clinic or doctor’s office performing the procedures.

Approval of the rules by the five-member State Rules and Regulations Board was necessary for the KansasDepartment of Health and Environment to begin enforcing them Friday. But abortion providers have filed a federal lawsuit and hope to prevent the state from enforcing the regulations and the new licensing law under which they were written. A hearing in that lawsuit is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

Kansas has three abortion providers, all in the Kansas City area. The law requires each to obtain a special license to continue performingabortions. The regulations tell providers what equipment and drugs they must stock and set space and temperature requirements for procedure and recovery rooms.

Only one provider, a Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, had a licensing decision pending Thursday with the health department. One provider has been denied a license; the third hasn’t been inspected and can’t get a license until it is.

“I do not think we will get a decision from KDHE until tomorrow,” saidPeter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of the Planned Parenthood chapter. “We’ve not been granted a license. We haven’t been denied a license.”

Supporters say the rules will protect patients from substandard care, but critics say they’re burdensome by design and really aimed at shutting down abortion services.

Abortion-rights supporters are suspicious of the licensing process because Gov. Sam Brownback is an anti-abortion Republican andabortion opponents pushed the law through the GOP-controlled Legislature.

All five Rules and Regulation Board members are Republicans like Mr. Brownback. Its members include two legislators and representatives of the attorney general, secretary of state and secretary of administration. The non-legislators often send subordinates, and the board receives little public attention. But Secretary of State Kris Kobach and Secretary of Administration Dennis Taylor both attended Thursday.

Providers have sued partly because they didn’t see the current version of the regulations until earlier this month — less than two weeks before they were supposed to comply with them. The health department also hasn’t taken public comments.

The health department used an expedited process to impose the rules for four months until it solicits public comments and considers changes. Department officials contend the fast track is necessary because the law requires the licensing process to be in place by July 1.

State law created the Rules and Regulations Board to review efforts by agencies to impose regulations quickly and before taking public comments. The health department published a notice Thursday that it will have a public hearing on the abortion clinic rules Sept. 7 in Topeka.

“Our goal is always to ensure the highest quality of care,” Joseph Kroll, the director of the health department bureau that drafted the regulations. “I think their content and the approach is consistent with other regulations that we have in effect.”

To read more, visit: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jun/30/kansas-board-approves-new-abortion-rules/

 

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