Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Thursday contending that a Kansas law requiring doctors to inform people seeking abortions that they’re ending the life of a ‘‘whole, separate, unique, living human being’’ is unconstitutional.
In addition to the mandate that doctors inform women that abortion terminates the life of a separate human being, HB 2253 also bans abortions based on gender, bars employees of institutions that perform abortions from providing sexual education materials to public schools, seeks to block all direct or indirect tax incentives for the procedure, and revises the state’s informed consent materials given to those considering an abortion to include false and misleading information about a link between the procedure and breast cancer. Finally, the bill also defines human life as beginning “at fertilization.”
The new requirements are set to take effect next month.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court, claims the law violates doctors’ First Amendment free speech rights. It alleges that stating an abortion terminates the life of a separate human being requires doctors to make ‘‘a misleading statement of philosophical and/or religious belief.’’ The lawsuit also challenges a provision of the law that requires its website to link to a Kansas Department of Health and Environment site on abortion and fetal development. Planned Parenthood argues that by forcing clinics to link to the department’s website, it is required to endorse the health department’s message. The lawsuit also challenges a requirement that abortion patients receive information that a fetus can feel pain by the 20th week after fertilization.
Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Missouri’s Comprehensive Health Center, said in a statement that the law violates providers’ First Amendment rights by requiring them to endorse Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s stance on abortion and provide misleading information. “We are in court to fight this overreaching law that violates our freedom of speech, and undermines a woman’s ability to trust her doctor,” Brownlie said. “For government officials to force individuals and organizations to publicly endorse the state’s views violates the fundamental principles on which our country is founded. Gov. Brownback’s attempt to again inject politics into the relationship between a woman and her doctor will not stand.”
According to reports, Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s office anticipated legal action related to the bill and requested up to $500,000 to defend it over the next two years. So far Kansas has spent $759,000 since 2011 defending anti-abortion laws, according to Planned Parenthood. That puts Kansas right alongside North Dakota as a Republican-controlled state willing to spend large amounts of money to support an anti-choice agenda.