(DCWatchdog.com) – In a setback for pro-life advocates, a Kansas judge temporarily suspended a recently enacted state law concerning medication abortions and invalidated longstanding mandates dictating what medical providers must communicate to patients, including a mandatory 24-hour waiting period.
Judge K. Christopher Jayaram’s directive suspends various restrictions that have been operational for decades, including the waiting period, established in 1997. This decision represents a significant triumph for advocates of abortion rights in Kansas, where a state-wide referendum in August 2022 affirmed constitutional protections for abortion access.
The interim order will remain operative until the conclusion of a trial, scheduled for late June 2024, regarding a lawsuit initiated by abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood Great Plains, against state officials responsible for enforcing abortion restrictions.
However, the legal battle is not without opposition. Caleb Dalton, Senior Counsel for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom, supporting the state’s anti-abortion laws, commented, “Kansans are right to want to protect maternal health and safety and the lives of the unborn, and we will continue defending their interests.”
Kansas, with a Republican-controlled legislature, stands out in its stance on abortion. The state’s Supreme Court declared in 2019 that the Kansas Constitution guarantees a right to bodily autonomy, thus securing access to abortion as a fundamental right. Despite attempts by GOP lawmakers to amend the state constitution to negate this right, a ballot initiative in August 2022 failed, upholding abortion rights.
The legal dispute also challenges older restrictions enacted by GOP lawmakers, which aimed to ensure patients were adequately informed before undergoing an abortion.
Abortion opponents warned before the August 2022 vote that, without constitutional amendments, all existing abortion restrictions might be jeopardized. The state Supreme Court is currently reviewing laws enacted in 2015 and 2011 that have not been enforced due to ongoing litigation.
Representatives of the state and the Alliance for Defending Freedom contend that the providers’ lawsuit undermines patients’ interests by seeking to limit the information available to them. Danielle Underwood, spokesperson for Kansans for Life, lamented the ruling, describing it as detrimental to women’s well-being and favorable to the abortion industry.