Last week we noted Kansas pro-life laws being taken to court without good reason, however it is encouraging that the federal lawsuit filed by Comprehensive Health/Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri is moving relatively quickly.
The lawsuit focuses on Kansas’ 2013 Pro-Life Protections Act, specifically the “first-in-the-nation” requirement that the link to the state “Woman’s Right to Know” abortion information website be positioned on a clinic’s home page with this description:
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment maintains a website containing objective, nonjudgmental, scientifically accurate information about the development of the unborn child, as well as video of sonogram images of the unborn child at various stages of development. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s website can be reached by clicking here.
As background, women obtaining Kansas abortions since 1997 have been required to sign certification forms for their medical file that they “accessed” these WRTK materials 24 hours prior to abortion. The right to supply state-issued abortion information was upheld in the 1992 Casey ruling, in which the U.S. Supreme Court said the state has a role in ensuring abortion-seeking women are well informed.
Abortionists oppose WRTK information, as it not only indicates the clinics lack candor on full informed consent, but also can reveal alternative solutions to abortion. And, in fact, Kansas annual stats show hundreds of women do not have abortions after getting this info (see KFL post here).
In August, Planned Parenthood stipulated on record all their abortion clients are receiving the printed version of these WRTK materials. Furthermore, all Kansas abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, voluntarily placed a link to the state website somewhere on their websites after the WRTK materials became accessible in that manner.
So, since Planned Parenthood affirms it distributes the printed WRTK materials (even while objecting to the content) and links to the state WRTK website, why do they oppose the weblink being positioned on their homepage?
They argue that such prominent positioning with an “accuracy” tagline gives the appearance they endorse the WRTK materials. They are particularly offended by WRTK facts about the pain capability of the unborn child and the statement that “abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.”
The State of Kansas has supplied strong rebuttal filings in defense of this lawsuit. They argue that the WRTK weblink does not interfere with any First Amendment speech rights as the abortionist is not prohibited from voicing or publishing opinions in disagreement with the Kansas information, as one clinic has notoriously done for years (see KFL post here).
Rather, defense attorneys say this WRTK weblink with accuracy description is permissible state regulation of abortion commerce. After all, Kansas Planned Parenthood is a business; the “Who we are” section of their website reads: “Our primary service is providing abortion services from 4 to 22 weeks gestation.” And at a profit.
Americans experience the effect of government regulation of business every day, to name a few:
- ads for pharmaceutical products must disclose the drugs’ side effects;
- nutritional supplement labels contain disclaimers that their claimed benefits have not been verified by the FDA;
- cigarette packages contain cancer warnings.
Abortionists may bristle at government consumer protection actions, but,“The well-being of people who may be unsophisticated in health care matters is a compelling interest of the state” under Kansas case law (Bolton, 1979).
Kansas defense attorneys point to four other rulings since Casey [Lakey (TX 2012), Rounds II (MN, ND,SD 2008), Summit (AL 2003), Eubanks (KY 2000)] where courts denied abortionists’ claim that state informed consent regulation violated their free speech.
Both Planned Parenthood and the state of Kansas have filed formal requests that federal Judge Kathryn Vratil rule without a trial– as a matter of judging on the law—whether the weblink is permissible. We believe Kansas will prevail.