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Center for Reproductive Rights Challenges Kansas Law Criminalizing Doctors for Providing Safe, Common Abortion Method

Medical experts opposed law which threatens women’s access to abortion in the second trimester


The Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a new lawsuit in state court today challenging a Kansas law banning the most commonly used method of ending a pregnancy in the second trimester--a law that could force some women to undergo an additional invasive unnecessary medical procedure even against the medical judgment of her physician.

Today's lawsuit--filed on behalf of a father-daughter team of board certified ob-gyns with 40 years of combined experience in comprehensive women's health care --seeks to block SB 95, which 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.

The measure, slated to take effect on July 1, represents an unprecedented attack on women's health, personal autonomy, and the doctor-patient relationship, potentially forcing physicians to subject women seeking safe and legal abortion services in the second trimester to an additional invasive unnecessary procedure. Kansas Governor Brownback signed SB 95 in April 2015 over the objections of local and national medical experts, including over 20 area physicians.

Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

"This is yet another in a relentless barrage of attacks to block women's access to constitutionally protected abortion services. 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.

"It's time to stop interfering with women's personal decisions and substituting the agendas of politicians for the expertise of health care professionals.

"We are confident this court will see the harm this law would inflict upon Kansas women and block it before even one woman is denied the care that she and her doctor have decided is best."

The Kansas measure is the first of its kind, though one week after Governor Brownback signed SB 95, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a similar restriction into law.

Janet Crepps, Genevieve Scott, and Zoe Levine of the Center for Reproductive Rights filed today's suit in Shawnee County Court in Topeka on behalf of Doctors Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser of Overland Park. Their practice is only one of three providers of abortion in Kansas.

Major medical groups oppose political interference and medically unnecessary procedures similar to what is found in SB 95. In opposing invasive, forced ultrasound laws, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) noted "[i]n no other area of medicine are physicians required to breach medical ethics by subjecting a patient to a medical procedure that the patient does not want to undergo and which is not medically appropriate or necessary."

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. Rather than focusing on increasing the number of policies that are known to support women and children, politicians in Kansas have spent their time enacting abortion restrictions that do nothing to improve women's health and safety.

The Center for Reproductive Rights is a global human rights organization of lawyers and advocates who ensure reproductive rights are protected in law as fundamental human rights for the dignity, equality, health, and well-being of every person.

(917) 637-3600