Kansas AG plans to appeal ruling blocking anti-abortion law
Topeka Kansas' attorney general plans to appeal a judge's ruling temporarily blocking the state's first-in-the-nation ban on the most common second trimester abortion procedure.
Lawyers representing Attorney General Derek Schmidt filed a notice Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court, saying they intend to ask the state Court of Appeals to overturn last week's ruling. District Judge Larry Hendricks put the law on hold until he hears a lawsuit filed by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights for two Kansas abortion providers.
The law embodies model legislation from the National Right to Life Committee and was to take effect Wednesday. Oklahoma has a similar law taking effect Nov. 1, enacted shortly after the Kansas statue.
The Kansas law would ban what it and anti-abortion groups call "dismemberment abortion," using forceps, clamps, scissors or similar instruments on a living fetus to remove it from the womb in pieces. Such instruments are used in dilation and evacuation procedures.
The lawsuit said such procedures account for 95 percent of second trimester abortions nationally. Hendricks said the Center for Reproductive Rights is likely to prevail in arguing that the state can't ban the most common second trimester procedure because it places too much of a burden on women seeking to terminate their pregnancies.
Hendricks also said the Kansas Constitution independently protects abortion rights at least as much as the U.S. Constitution — a finding the state's appellate courts previously have not made. The judge initially ruled from the bench after a hearing last week, then issued a written order Tuesday.
The one-page notice filed by Schmidt's lawyers did not say why he is appealing, and he declined to comment. But his attorneys argued in court that legislators consider the banned procedure inhumane and the state has an interest in protecting the dignity of human life.
The case must go first to the Court of Appeals. The parties can ask to have it moved immediately to the Kansas Supreme Court, or the high court can grab it.
"We're disappointed, but at the same time, we're confident Judge Hendricks came to the right decision," said Janet Crepps, a senior attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights. "We're optimistic that his ruling will be affirmed on appeal."
The abortion rights group is representing father-daughter Drs. Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser, who perform abortions at their women's health center in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park. They sued Schmidt and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe because they have the authority to prosecute the doctors for violating the law.