The Kansas legislature, in an attempt to cut off access to abortion, created a plethora of new, mandatory guidelines that all clinics providing abortions must follow, then provided the clinics with just a few weeks to catch up or stop performing.
So how did the state develop all of these new rules? Well, they sure aren’t going to tell you!
“They’re using every procedure available to prevent us from doing any discovery to find out the steps they took in enacting these regulations,” said Bonnie Scott Jones, one of the lawyers for the abortion providers.
Jones represents Herbert Hodes and his daughter, who run an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in Overland Park. They, along with a Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic, challenged the new rules in federal court in June.
The abortion providers wanted to quiz Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Secretary of Health and Environment Robert Moser about the new rules, which started July 1. They want to know what steps were taken in developing the rules and who was involved in researching and writing them.
They also are asking for records, including any documented communications about the rules involving the governor and his staff or the anti-abortion groups Kansans for Life and Operation Rescue.
Representatives of both groups said they didn’t try to influence the development of the temporary regulations.
State lawyers said the agencies and their staff are protected by absolute legislative immunity, which shields them not only from liability but also from an inquiry into how the rules were developed.
They argue that legislative immunity frees them of “burdensome, intrusive, expensive and potentially harassing discovery.”
So, what are the odds that anti-abortion groups provided suggestions for how to make conditions so onerous that clinics couldn’t operate? And, if true, what are the odds that the general public will ever get to find out?