The Latest: Kansas governor disappointed by abortion ruling

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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 4:49 PM
The Latest: Kansas governor disappointed by abortion ruling

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The latest on Kansas' first-in-the nation ban on a procedure that anti-abortion activists call "dismemberment abortion." (All times local):

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3:45 p.m.

A spokeswoman for Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback says the Republican is disappointed by a judge's decision to block a new state law that bans a specific abortion procedure.

The governor is a strong abortion opponent. His spokeswoman, Eileen Hawley, released a statement saying Brownback is committed to "supporting a culture of life."

Hawley called Kansas a "pro-life state" and said, "Kansas law should protect human dignity for all Kansans."

The law bans a common procedure used during second-trimester abortions that opponents describe as dismembering a fetus. The law was scheduled to take effect next week.

Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks ruled that there's a substantial likelihood that the ban would create an undue burden for women seeking abortions.

His order will stay in effect while a lawsuit challenging the ban proceeds.

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2 p.m.

An anti-abortion leader in Kansas says a judge's decision to block a new abortion law has renewed her group's interest in changing how Kansas Supreme Court justices are selected.

A county judge on Thursday temporarily blocked a law that bans a common second-trimester abortion procedure that critics call dismembering a fetus. The case will likely get to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Currently, a lawyer-led nominating commission screens applicants for the Supreme Court and picks three finalists, then the governor appoints one.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, says one of her group's top priorities is changing that process, which would require amending the Kansas Constitution.

Her group prefers that justices be elected by voters, but it also supports eliminating the commission and allowing the governor to appoint justices with Senate confirmation.

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1:45 p.m.

The Center for Reproductive Rights says it's relieved that a judge has blocked a new law banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure in Kansas.

Still, senior counsel Janet Crepps said her group is looking to resolve the key legal issue of how much the Kansas Constitution protects abortion rights.

Crepps represents two abortion providers who challenged the new law, which blocks a procedure that anti-abortion groups describe as dismembering a fetus. Abortion rights advocates say the law would force women to forgo abortions or accept riskier procedures.

Attorneys on both sides of the issue interpret the ruling as meaning the Kansas Supreme Court could grant greater protections to abortion than the U.S. Supreme Court has.

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10:45 a.m.

The judge who blocked a new Kansas abortion law says the state's constitution protects a woman's right to have an abortion separately from the U.S. Constitution.

Shawnee County District Judge Larry Hendricks cited a 2006 ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court in which justices said the protections in the state for abortion are generally in line with what the U.S. Constitution offers.

Attorneys on both sides said Hendricks' ruling Thursday is significant. They say that if his ruling is upheld, the Kansas Supreme Court could grant more protections on abortion than the U.S. Supreme Court does. Abortion opponents have feared such a result, because they've pushed in recent years for new restrictions.

The law that Hendricks put on hold would ban a procedure that abortion critics describe as "dismembering a fetus."

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10:30 a.m.

A Kansas judge has blocked the state's first-in-the-nation ban on an abortion procedure opponents refer to as "dismemberment abortion."

The decision Thursday from Shawnee County District Court Judge Larry Hendricks came in a lawsuit filed from the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights. The center represents two Kansas abortion providers and argued the law would force women to undergo riskier procedures or forgo abortions.

The judge's order will stay in effect while he considers the lawsuit further. The new law was supposed to take effect July 1.

It bans a second-trimester procedure that anti-abortion activists call "dismemberment abortion" and was model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee. Kansas was the first state to enact it.

The state's lawyers argued that there are safe alternative abortion methods.

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1 a.m.

The state of Kansas is defending its ban on a procedure that opponents refer to as "dismemberment abortion."

An abortion rights group on Thursday will ask a Kansas judge to block the ban. The Center for Reproductive Rights says the procedure is the most common method for terminating second-trimester pregnancies. It contends the new law would force some women to either accept higher medical risks or forgo abortions.

But the state says abortion providers have safe alternatives to the procedure.

Thursday's hearing before District Judge Larry Hendricks comes just six days before the ban takes effect.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is asking him to block it at least until its lawsuit is heard.