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Friday, July 25, 2014

In defending abortion restrictions, Kansas rings up big bills

Brad Cooper
The Kansas City Star

The legal cash register is starting to ring up big numbers as Kansas defends new laws aimed at restricting abortion.

After about six months, the state has tallied $392,520 in legal bills stemming from attempts to restrict abortion that were pushed during the legislative session earlier this year.

The state spent $237,834 on private lawyers defending efforts to strip Planned Parenthood of federal family planning funds. It has laid out $94,380 defending new rules for abortion clinics.

And it has amassed $60,306 in legal bills over a new law that bars insurance companies from providing elective abortion coverage as part of their comprehensive plans.

“It seems like a lot of money in six months,” said state Sen. Kelly Kultala, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan.

“I would like to see us spending that money on other issues that are important to Kansans, like creating jobs and putting people back to work.”

Opponents of abortion say the money is being used to defend “reasonable laws” supported by a majority of people.

“States defend their laws every day. Those claiming it is unfair to use state money to defend these laws are wrong. It would be unfair not to,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.

“All these laws do is to try and protect the rights of those who would be, could be and often are exploited by the abortion industry.”

Two firms are handling the lawsuits for the state.

Foulston Siefkin is representing the state in the Planned Parenthood case. The firm charges up to $300 an hour for litigation work and $115 an hour for paralegal services.

The law firm of former University of Kansas Law School Dean Steve McAllister — Thompson, Ramsdell & Qualseth — is representing the state in lawsuits challenging the new abortion clinic rules and the insurance restrictions.

McAllister’s firm charges up to $275 for litigation and $75 an hour for paralegal work

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has said he needed outside legal help on the abortion cases since he has 10 staff attorneys overseeing more than 600 cases already.

Schmidt has portrayed the state as a legal “David” pitted against a “Goliath” representing abortion providers with a battery of out-of-state lawyers.

To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.

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