TOPEKA (KSNT) – A Johnson County District Court judge has held off on ruling on a temporary injunction request from Kansas abortion providers, amid an ongoing lawsuit.
Abortion providers filed a lawsuit against state officials in June, challenging several restrictions in the Women’s Right to Know Act. The act, which was established in 1997, has been amended several times over the years.
The latest amendment, which passed this year, requires physicians to let patients know that a medication abortion can be reversed. Providers argue the information is not based on science, however, Republican state officials disagree.
“The reversal amendment has pushed the law beyond a bridge too far,” said Alice Wang, an attorney with the Center for Reproductive Rights, who argued on behalf of providers in the case.
In addition to the latest amendment, the act says that a doctor can’t provide an abortion until 24 hours after providing state-mandated information.
Both sides made oral arguments, during a hearing on the temporary injunction request on Tuesday. However, Judge K. Christopher Jayaram decided that he needed more time to make a decision.
Judge Jayaram raised concerns over the law, during the hearing.
“If they believe that the appropriate standard of care is that this is not an acceptable or safe treatment, but yet the state is requiring them to provide information, saying this may help, I’m concerned about that,” he said, as Harle made arguments.
Jayaram said the law requires doctors to indicate where they live, whether they have malpractice insurance, and if they have any disciplinary action.
He questioned why the law singles out a specific provider type in one specific service to provide this information, and why that would make consent any more informed.
Since the majority of Kansans voted to uphold abortion rights in the state constitution last year, the law is held to strict scrutiny.
“…a woman isn’t able to functionally exercise her decision one way or the other…that’s when you have a strict scrutiny problem. But, simply giving a woman information just like these abortion providers have done for 26 years… that’s not impairing a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion one way or another,” Denise Harle, an attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom who argued on behalf of the state, told reporters after the hearing.
Another point of contention was why abortion providers are challenging the act now.
Emily Wales, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, said the world is changing after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
“You cannot access abortion care except in a few parts in this country. And for us right now, we feel compelled to give patients, who are going to get back in the car for 15 hours, medically accurate information,” Wales said. “Because we know they’re scared to talk to providers at home, we want to know they can trust us with real information.”
Judge Jayaram said Tuesday he hopes to rule in “short order” on whether to temporarily stop the Women’s Right to Know Act, as legal proceedings are underway. In the meantime, both parties are also looking at setting an official trial date.