U.S. News

Kansas doctors challenge 2nd trimester abortion procedure ban

(Reuters) - A father-daughter doctor team on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging a Kansas state law due to take effect in July that would ban a common second trimester abortion procedure that lawmaker supporters termed “dismemberment abortions.”

The ban “will undermine their patients’ rights to be free from unnecessary medical procedures and to make medical decisions, in conjunction with their physicians, that are in their best interests,” the doctors’ state court lawsuit said.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in April signed the bill prohibiting the use of dilation and evacuation effective July 1. The bill says the procedure can result in the fetus being extracted in pieces.

A spokeswoman for Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in a statement: “As is our duty, our office will provide for a vigorous defense of the state’s duly enacted laws.”

The lawsuit was filed in district court in Shawnee County, Kansas. A hearing had yet to be scheduled.

Nancy Northup, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said the center was confident a court would block the law from taking effect.

“This is yet another in a relentless barrage of attacks to block women’s access to constitutionally protected abortion services,” Northup said in a statement.

The plaintiffs, Drs. Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser, run a clinic in Overland Park that is one of three abortion providers in Kansas.

The lawsuit says dilation and evacuation is performed starting at about 15 weeks pregnancy and is the most commonly used method of abortion in the second trimester.

The procedure is used in about 8 or 9 percent of abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports the right to abortion but whose research is cited by both sides in the debate.

Nearly 90 percent of abortions are performed in the first trimester, it said.

Doctors are subject to criminal prosecution for violations of the Kansas law, which allows use of the procedure to preserve the life of a pregnant woman or when the woman’s health is in serious jeopardy from the pregnancy.

Oklahoma’s governor in April signed a similar ban into law, which takes effect in November. Similar legislation was introduced in Missouri and South Carolina.

Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Mohammad Zargham