Judge blocks Kansas law that stops abortions at two clinics

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2011 6:28 PM
Judge blocks Kansas law that stops abortions at two clinics

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kan (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday blocked a Kansas law that forced two clinics in the state to stop providing abortions because they could not comply with 36 pages of new regulations.

Judge Carlos Murguia granted a request from the two clinics for a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of the rules, which went into effect Friday morning.

At a hearing, lawyers for the clinics argued the rules are unreasonable and the state gave less then two weeks' notice for them to be imposed.

The Kansas Department of Environment and Health said the two clinics -- the Center for Women's Health and Aid for Women -- failed to meet the requirements and could not be licensed.

A third clinic, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, got its license but not until the agency determined late Thursday afternoon that it passed inspection and was in compliance.

While the health agency says the new regulations are in the interest of patient safety, clinic officials have said they are excessive and unnecessary.

Among other things, the regulations set minimum dimensions for surgical and recovery rooms, specify room temperature ranges and require extra medical equipment and staffing. Doctors performing abortions must have hospital privileges within 30 miles of the clinic.

The Kansas law is one of many abortion curbs pushed by conservative lawmakers in dozens of states this year. Other proposals included bans on late-term abortions and requirements that providers offer women sonograms of their fetuses.

(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)