Planned Parenthood affiliates in Missouri – including the one that covers Kansas – are asking a federal judge to prevent Missouri from enforcing two laws that they say restrict access to abortion.
The affiliates on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit in Missouri challenging requirements that abortion clinics meet standards for surgical centers and that their doctors have privileges in nearby hospitals. The lawsuit comes after a June U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down similar restrictions in Texas.
Kansas had adopted both of the requirements at the heart of those cases.
Planned Parenthood affiliates in North Carolina and Alaska also filed lawsuits Wednesday against laws affecting abortion access.
The Missouri lawsuit asks for an injunction to prevent the state from enforcing the requirements and a judgment that both laws are unconstitutional.
Missouri is currently a one-provider state, with abortions offered only in St. Louis. Planned Parenthood and another independent clinic offer abortions in Overland Park, Kan.
“These restrictions have not increased the health or safety of women,” said Mary Kogut, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri. Instead, she said, they’ve placed an “undue burden.”
Kansas adopted two of the requirements at the heart of the June Supreme Court decision and the court filing in Missouri: that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and that the clinics meet the requirements of an ambulatory surgery center.
However, as you know, the legal landscape can change at any moment.
Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains
Laura McQuade, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which covers Kansas and Missouri, said those are the “two most common restrictions, and some of the greatest barriers” to abortion. She added that those restrictions had “a dramatic impact on the health outcomes of women in the state of Texas.”
But both of the Kansas laws are temporarily enjoined, meaning the abortion clinics and providers do not have to comply with those laws, pending the final decision.
“We feel confident that they (the laws) will never go into effect, given the Supreme Court decision in June,” McQuade said. “However, there has been no legal movement in those cases at this time.”
Because those laws are enjoined in Kansas, McQuade said Planned Parenthood doesn’t plan at this time to sue the state, as it is doing in Missouri.
“It’s not on our immediate radar,” she said.
“However, as you know, the legal landscape can change at any moment.”
Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director for Kansans for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion organization, said she’s not surprised about Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit in Missouri.
She said it’s frustrating that not all of Kansas’ laws are in effect.
A separate Kansas Supreme Court case will decide whether the state constitution protects abortion rights independently of the U.S. Constitution.
The abortion right at stake in the Kansas case, she said, is broader than the right in Roe v. Wade, which affirmed abortion as a constitutional right.
“It’s not the same thing as Roe,” Ostrowski said. “It’s quite a different creature.”
Contributing: Associated Press