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Posts Tagged ‘Federal Judge Kathyrn Vratil’

A.G.Schmidt

A.G. Schmidt

Great news! Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri has withdrawn its challenge in federal court to a Kansas law requiring that its website homepage contain a live link to the Kansas Health Department “informed consent” information.

This concession happened at the eleventh hour, as a hearing was scheduled Monday in the court of Judge Kathryn Vratil. PPKMM technically has until Monday to refile, which is extremely unlikely.

PPKMM had refused to comply with the weblink law even after all other Kansas abortion clinics had complied and despite the fact that a separate challenge from the Hodes & Nauser abortion clinic collapsed in state district court this spring.

This is the fourth win for the legal team under Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt in defending sound pro-life laws promoted by Kansans for Life.

Kansas has required abortion clinics to provide access to state materials on prenatal development, abortion information and assistance for unplanned pregnancies since 1997. The required weblink at issue reads:

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment maintains a website containing 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 accessed here[womansrighttoknow.org].

The state’s defense was rock solid against PPKMM’s argument that the weblink was:

  1. a free speech infringement of PPKMM’s preferred narrative about pregnancy, and
  2. it didn’t belong on the homepage where other non-abortion clients might see it.

The state rebutted that the required link was a form of consumer protection and that the state had a right to alert women before they committed to abortion. From the state’s most recent filing (emphasis added):

“In the 1980s and 1990s, public access to the Internet was extremely limited. Few businesses or public institutions had websites. …In the face of these changes in technology and access, and in order to more effectively reach women as they are contemplating the weighty decision of whether to undergo an abortion, the Kansas Legislature enacted a law in 2013…that when a company is in the business of performing abortions and that company maintains a website, it must include a link on its homepage.”

More on Monday!

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PPKMM logo (2)Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri is the only one of Kansas’ four abortion clinics not in compliance with a state weblink requirement that went into effect April 24.

PPKMM had unsuccessfully sued last year to block a nearly identical abortion informed consent provision.

The 2013 Pro-Life Protections Act had required Kansas abortion business to place –on their website homepage– a one-click link to materials prepared by the Kansas Health Department identified as “objective, nonjudgmental, scientifically accurate.”

Effective April 24, a new law, Senate Bill 54, continues the weblink mandate but trimmed the four word identifier from the tagline. The required tagline now reads:

“The Kansas Department of Health and Environment maintains a website containing 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.www.womansrighttoknow.org

Eleven months ago, PPKMM filed suit in the court of federal Judge Kathyrn Vratil. They maintained that the requirement for a live link with tagline was “compelled speech” that violated the First Amendment and asked for an injunction.

Judge Vratil did not issue the injunction, noting the weblink had been already enjoined in state court for another abortion business, the Center for Women’s Health. Vratil ordered that she be apprised of any action involving the state injunction.

However that state court injunction was officially dissolved last Friday, and PPKMM knew it was in the works with the signing of Senate Bill 54 last month.

PPKMM should have been prepared to comply or petition for a new injunction—and they have done neither, as of press time today, Wednesday. Their website is here.

Attorneys for the Kansas Attorney General had defended the weblink as a regulation of commercial speech, which courts require to be proportionate to the state interests it advances. The “free speech” of the abortionist is still allowed free reign to critique, or even mock the link, which two did.

Here are two current examples of abortionist-added editorial content that immediately precede the weblink tagline.

The Aid for Women clinic—notorious for its churlish postings on their abortion clinic website, prefaces the weblink with this:

We are being forced by Republicans to use our website resources to say untruthful things about the State’s proLife website in hopes that you will visit their website and change your mind away from abortion. We must have this signage or go to jail. Republicans also don’t believe that rape causes pregnancy, nor ever too many children. They are stupid. Let’s vote them out of office. However, here goes..

The Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park prefaces the weblink with this:

WE ARE REQUIRED BY THE STATE OF KANSAS TO SAY THIS, WHICH DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT CURRENT MEDICAL OPINION; OR, OUR OPINION:

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Federal Judge Kathyrn Vratil

Federal Judge
Kathryn Vratil

Six weeks ago, Kansans for Life characterized the Planned Parenthood lawsuit against the newly-passed Pro-Life Protections Act as “a desperate move to appease its base in the wake of increased pro-life laws that reflect the will of the people but jeopardize the bottom line of abortion businesses.”

Developments in the court of Federal Judge Kathryn Vratil show that KFL was right–the filing was not justified, just grandstanding and Planned Parenthood is now withdrawing two-thirds of its lawsuit’s complaints!

In a 20-minute phone conference Monday afternoon with Judge Vratil, attorneys for Comprehensive Health/Planned Parenthood of Overland Park confirmed that they are amending their original filing to:

  1. withdraw opposition to the statement “abortion terminates the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being”;
  2. withdraw opposition to the information about the pain-capability of the unborn child; but
  3. retain opposition to a requirement that each clinic’s online home page feature a hyperlink to the state’s informed consent website.

Planned Parenthood’s “backpedaling” amendments will be filed formally on Wednesday and the state of Kansas defense attorneys plan to accept them. A hearing before Judge Vratil on the hyperlink issue will happen later this fall.

In the meantime, the entire Pro-Life Protections Act has gone into effect except the hyperlink mandate and one medical emergency definition, both of which were temporarily enjoined by Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca Crotty. Judge Vratil has acknowledged that Judge Crotty’s injunction is in effect– the result of a separate lawsuit filed in state court by the Overland Park Center for Women’s Health (owned by abortionists Herb Hodes and Traci Nauser).

During the two years of hearings for the Pro-Life Protections Act, abortion supporters maligned it as ‘sweeping’, ‘extremist’, ‘a mandate that abortionists lie to women’, and ‘support for obstetricians to trick women into birthing disabled children’.  They wailed about provisions of the Act that removed tax-funding for abortion training, ended tax benefits for abortionists and restricted abortionists from teaching classroom sex-ed. They huffed and puffed about language the U.S. Supreme Court approved in 1989 that human life begins at fertilization.

Yet now we see that their ONLY legal complaint (other than a hyper-technical misinterpretation of one of the medical emergency definitions) is that they must acknowledge the scientific accuracy of the state health department’s informed consent website –a website to which abortion clinics have voluntarily linked for years!

Abortion businesses are a commercial enterprise subject to government regulation.  It is an extremely weak argument they put forth (in both federal and state court) that their “free speech” rights are being violated when required to label the state information in the hyperlink as medically accurate.

We expect Kansas to win both the federal and state lawsuits, but it’s a shame that tax payers have to pay to defend good, protective legislation from abortion business nuisance suits.

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