Judge blocks Kansas ban on second trimester abortion procedure

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 12:02 PM

By Fiona Ortiz

(Reuters) - A Kansas judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a law that would ban a common second trimester abortion procedure from taking effect next week, according to an attorney for an abortion rights group that challenged the law.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks granted an injunction that will allow dilation and extraction abortion procedures to continue in Kansas for now, said Center for Reproductive Rights lawyer Genevieve Scott, who attended the hearing. The law was scheduled to take effect on July 1.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback signed the bill prohibiting the use of dilation and evacuation into law in April.

The bill says the procedure can result in the fetus being extracted in pieces. Supporters of the procedure say it is considered the safest way to terminate a pregnancy in the second trimester.

"The judge issued a temporary injunction after finding we had a likelihood of success in our claim that (the law) violates the right to abortion," Scott said.

The Kansas Attorney General's office was not immediately available for comment.

The Center for Reproductive Rights joined a lawsuit filed on June 1 by the Center for Women's Health in Overland Park, Kansas, one of three abortion providers in the state.

Scott said the next step was to proceed to trial and prove the merits of the claim that the law is unconstitutional. No date has been set for the trial or the next hearing in the case.

"We're very pleased with the ruling. We think it reflects clearly established precedent that a law that bans the most common method of second trimester abortions is unconstitutional," she said.

Dilation and evacuation is used in about 8 or 9 percent of abortions, while nearly 90 percent of abortions are performed in the first trimester, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights but whose research is cited by both sides in the debate.

The procedure is performed starting at about 15 weeks pregnancy and is the most commonly used method of abortion in the second trimester, the lawsuit said.

(Additional reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Susan Heavey)