Led by a father-daughter team of board-certified ob-gyns, reproductive rights advocates in Kansas are fighting back against "yet another in a relentless barrage of attacks to block women’s access to constitutionally protected abortion services."
Represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, doctors Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser filed suit on Monday in state court, challenging a Kansas law that bans the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester.
"The ultimate goal of those behind this law is to criminalize abortion services, one by one, until women are left with absolutely no safe or legal options."
—Nancy Northup, Center for Reproductive Rights
The law, signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in April, takes effect on July 1 and bans the dilation and evacuation (known as D and E) procedure—thus effectively banning abortion as early as 14 weeks post-fertilization. Its language is based on legislation drafted by the radically anti-choice National Right to Life Committee.
The plaintiffs (pdf), whose practice is one of only three providers of abortion in Kansas and who together have 40 years of combined experience in women’s health care, say the law "prohibits them from providing a safe, effective, and medically-proven method of abortion to many of their patients seeking care in the second trimester of pregnancy."
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Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), added: "The ultimate goal of those behind this law is to criminalize abortion services, one by one, until women are left with absolutely no safe or legal options."
Indeed, CRR points out that Kansas women already face myriad obstacles when attempting to access basic reproductive health care services, including a 24-hour mandatory delay for women seeking safe and legal abortion and restrictions on insurance coverage for abortion services.
With Republicans enjoying a 'super-majority' across state legislatures, such obstacles are becoming increasingly commonplace. In what some have described as a concerted assault on women's rights, state lawmakers have passed more than 200 regulations on abortion since 2010, when the GOP gained control of many state legislatures.
On Monday, the North Carolina senate approved a bill extending the state's mandatory waiting period from 24 to 72 hours. According to RH Reality Check, the Republican bill would also prohibit any department at East Carolina University or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from permitting an employee to perform or supervise the performance of an abortion as part of the employee’s official duties. The prohibition would make it virtually impossible for medical students at the two universities to learn how to perform abortion care.
Meanwhile, lawmakers in Wisconsin are considering legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks—similar to a bill passed recently by the U.S. House, which was blasted at the time as being "blatantly unconstitutional."
And while the Kansas measure was the first of its kind, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin recently signed a similar restriction into law.
In the face of these anti-choice efforts, Northup declared: "It’s time to stop interfering with women’s personal decisions and substituting the agendas of politicians for the expertise of health care professionals."