TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Planned Parenthood on Friday dropped a federal lawsuit challenging a requirement in Kansas for abortion providers to have a link on their websites' home pages to state materials about fetal development and terminating pregnancies.
U.S. District Judge Kathryn Vratil issued a one-page order closing the lawsuit, saying the parties had "settled" the claims, without providing details. A trial had been scheduled to begin Monday in Kansas City, Kansas.
Elise Higgins, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, told The Associated Press in a later email, "We voluntarily dismissed the case, and there was no settlement."
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt's office said it would decline comment until the parties file a joint statement about the resolution of the case. Vratil ordered them to do so by Monday.
Planned Parenthood argued the requirement to link to state materials violated its free-speech rights. The rule was enacted by legislators last year, and was a more specific, Internet-age requirement than a previous version of the law mandating state materials must be provided to patients before they have their abortions.
In a statement Friday, Laura McQuade, the group's president and CEO, said: "We made the decision to focus our resources on expanding access to care for our patients in 2015."
Planned Parenthood objected because the required language for the link included the phrase "unborn child," and the materials contained a statement that abortion ends the life of a "whole, separate, unique, living human being."
Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who signed the requirement into law, is a strong abortion opponent, and the Legislature has strong anti-abortion majorities in both chambers.
The state said its power to regulate medicine allows for rules about materials so that patients get good, objective information. It also said Planned Parenthood's home page already links to another page that gives patients access to the state's materials.
Planned Parenthood's clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park is among three clinics providing abortions in Kansas.
As of Friday evening, its website home page contained the required link and accompanying language, but the clinic put a disclaimer ahead of it.
"WE ARE REQUIRED BY THE STATE OF KANSAS TO STATE THE FOLLOWING, WHICH DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT CURRENT MEDICAL OPINION OR THAT OF COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH," the disclaimer said.
Legislators this year removed another requirement for providers' home page links to declare that the state's materials are objective and scientifically accurate — something Planned Parenthood also had challenged.
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