Politics & Government

Second clinic sues over Kansas abortion law

Calling the process a sham, a second abortion clinic went to court Wednesday to block Kansas from imposing new licensing rules on abortion providers.

Central Family Medical LLC, which runs the Aid for Women clinic in Kansas City, Kan., accuses the state of demanding nearly overnight compliance with new rules that are costly and medically unnecessary.

"The regulations are designed to have the providers fail. There's a classic Catch-22," said attorney Cheryl Pilate, who represents the clinic.

"You can't get a license if you don't meet the requirements, but there's no way you can meet the requirements in the absurdly short period of time you are given."

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health and Environment declined to comment late Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has asked a federal judge to keep Kansas from enforcing a provision in the state budget cutting off the organization's federal family-planning dollars.

The organization filed suit Monday challenging the provision. On Wednesday, it asked a federal judge in Wichita to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the provision.

A hearing on the request is scheduled July 8.

In Kansas City, Aid for Women wasn't inspected under the new licensing regulations the Legislature passed this year.

Six days after the clinic applied for a license, the state said it wouldn't grant one based on the application alone, the clinic's complaint said. At no point, the clinic contends, did state health regulators discuss why they denied the license or which corrective measures might be undertaken.

The clinic argues that KDHE had no factual basis for the denial because it hadn't inspected the clinic.

"Aid for Women has been, and is being denied, a license without any due process or an opportunity to address this matter with KDHE," the court filing alleges.

Aid for Women is asking to join a federal lawsuit filed a day earlier by a father-daughter physician team that asked the court to stop the same rules.

Those doctors, Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser, provide abortions at an obstetrics and gynecological clinic in Overland Park.

The two clinics, plus one run by Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, are racing to comply with the new rules, which require them to be licensed by Friday.

None are now licensed, which could make Kansas the only state without an abortion provider by the end of the week.

Abortion opponents have argued that the rules are necessary to protect the health of women. They cite instances of poor medical care, including the case of an abortion doctor in Kansas City, Kan., who lost his license in 2005 after state inspectors found an unclean facility and improperly stored medical supplies.

Critics of the law believe it's a back-door approach to shut down abortion by imposing onerous rules — even ones regulating room temperature — that are extremely difficult to meet, especially under tight time pressure.

Providers have pointed out that the state didn't send out the rules until June 17, a few days before Planned Parenthood was to be inspected and less than two weeks before the Hodes clinic was to be inspected. The Hodes clinic canceled its inspection, thinking it wouldn't be licensed anyway.