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Kansas abortion law is still set to take effect Monday

Updated: 2013-06-27T04:35:21Z

By GLENN E. RICE

The Kansas City Star

had not had an opportunity A federal judge in Kansas on Wednesday opted against an immediate injunction preventing portions of the state’s new abortion law from taking effect next week.

Attorneys for the state defended the law, saying it doesn’t pose immediate harm to abortion clinics or violate free speech rights.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri and its medical director are challenging a new state law requiring physicians to tell women that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks.

The measure requires doctors to tell women seeking abortions that the procedure will end the life of a “whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Backers of the law say it will protect patients by making sure they learn about abortion and fetal development.

The abortion providers recently sued to challenge the law, arguing their free speech rights will be violated if the Kansas law is enforced. Their lawsuit seeks to have the court declare some portions of the new law unconstitutional.

In their first formal response to the lawsuit, attorneys for the state said Wednesday that Planned Parenthood had not met its burden proving the law would cause irreparable harm.

U.S. District Judge Kathryn H. Vratil set a hearing for July 29 to hear further arguments. The law takes effect Monday. Vratil said she wanted to issue a written decision and had not had an opportunity before Wednesday to read recent court filings on the case.

On Monday, Planned Parenthood asked the federal court to issue an injunction while its lawsuit is litigated.

Among other things, the law would require Planned Parenthood to post a link on its website to the state health department, even though it did not agree that such information was “objective, nonjudgmental, scientifically accurate information,” said Diana Salgado, an attorney for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

However, the group was already providing a link to the state’s website, said Shon Qualseth, an attorney for the state.

Salgado characterized the law as “egregious” for forcing abortion providers to give voice to arguments of abortion opponents.

“It is unconstitutional to compel physicians to impart information that is untrue,” she said.

The state in turn argued that abortion clinics can publish disclaimers challenging the notice required by the law.

Two years ago, Kansas became one of several states to ban abortion starting at 22 weeks — with some exceptions — regardless of whether the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. The ban is based on the claim that fetuses that age feel pain. The law was modeled on a similar ban that Nebraska lawmakers approved in 2010, which was subsequently mimicked in other states.

In the meantime, a state judge has scheduled a hearing for Thursday in a lawsuit filed by two doctors against the state’s new abortion law.

Herbert Hodes and his daughter, Traci Nauser, want Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty to block the state’s enforcement of the entire law. Hodes and Nauser perform abortions at their health center in Overland Park.

The law bans sex selection abortions, blocks tax breaks for abortion providers, prohibits providers from furnishing materials or instructors for public school courses and spells out the information that must be provided to patients before abortions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. To reach Glenn E. Rice, call 816-234-4341 or send email to grice@kcstar.com.

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