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Attorneys seek more time in Kansas abortion suit

  • Associated Press
  • Published Thursday, July 11, 2013, at 7:27 p.m.

— Attorneys for both sides asked a federal judge Thursday to postpone a hearing in a Planned Parenthood lawsuit over parts of a new Kansas abortion law dealing with providers’ websites and what information patients must receive before pregnancies are terminated.

The state and Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Overland Park filed a joint request in U.S. District Court with Chief Judge Kathryn Vratil.

The new abortion law look took effect this month, and Vratil set what she called an “aggressive” schedule for reviewing Planned Parenthood’s challenge. The judge set a hearing for July 29 in Kansas City, Kan., and ordered attorneys to start filing legal briefs next week, with the last one due July 22.

The attorneys said they need more time to agree on a summary of facts, which would lessen the amount of evidence-gathering required. They asked Vratil for a telephone conference call on July 22 to discuss a new schedule.

A spokesman for Attorney General Derek Schmidt didn’t immediately comment on the filing. Arthur Benson II, a Kansas City, Mo., attorney representing Planned Parenthood, called the request “pretty routine.”

Planned Parenthood is challenging a requirement that providers have a link on their website home pages to a state health department site on abortion and fetal development and declare that the department’s information is objective and accurate. Providers dispute information on the state site, particularly statements suggesting a fetus can feel pain by the 20th week of pregnancy.

The lawsuit also challenges a requirement that patients waiting to terminate their pregnancies receive information with a statement that abortion ends the life of a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.”

Vratil has refused to prevent state officials from enforcing those requirements. However, in a separate state-court lawsuit by two doctors, a judge in Shawnee County temporarily blocked the website rule.

Other parts of the law ban sex-selection abortions, block tax breaks for providers and prohibit them from furnishing materials or instructors for public schools’ human sexuality courses.

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