Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Michigan doctors' group intervenes in Kansas abortion case

 (AP) — A Michigan-based group of doctors opposed to abortion appealed a federal court order keeping Kansas' restrictive new abortion rules from being enforced, even though the court has yet to grant it permission to intervene in the case.
The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists filed a motion to intervene in the case Monday, along with a notice of its appeal of the injunction. The group claims it has legal standing in the case because its members in Kansas are losing childbirth-related business to abortion clinics. It also says its members are placed at a competitive disadvantage because abortion providers pass along the costs of any complications or medical care after abortions to other doctors.
U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia, who issued the temporary injunction blocking the new state clinic licensing law on July 1, hasn't yet ruled on the group's request to intervene. But the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals put its appeal on its docket Tuesday and assigned it an appeals court number.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, whose lawyers represent the Kansas abortion providers who filed the lawsuit, said in an email that it does not see how AAPLOG can appeal the court's decision when it is not a party in the case. It plans to oppose the motion to intervene, which it believes is groundless.
"In any case, the Court granted an appropriate injunctive based on the clear evidence that the Defendants' actions had nothing to do with patient health or safety and everything to do with political shenanigans," said Bonnie Scott Jones, deputy director for the Center for Reproductive Rights. "We feel confident that any appeal of that ruling would be unsuccessful."
AAPLOG said in its filing that it is appealing the temporary injunction because the state of Kansas didn't.
Meanwhile, the Kansas attorney general's office has said it will appeal a temporary injunction keeping state from enforcing a statute stripping Planned Parenthood of federal family planning funds. That's a separate case.
"After appropriate consultation, the attorney general is pursuing what he believes to be the best legal strategy for each case," Jeff Wagaman, deputy chief of staff for the attorney general's office, said Tuesday in an email.
Richard Levy, a University of Kansas law professor, said there's a difference between the two cases in terms of the cost to the state.
"In the injunction on the abortion clinic regulations case, it has the effect of delaying the enforcement of these regulations ... the state might want the regulations to go into place, but they are still kind of working with them and there is no direct cost or loss to the state if they don't apply them until the process has run its course," Levy said. "In contrast, under the injunction in the Planned Parenthood case, money that the state wants not to give to Planned Parenthood is going to Planned Parenthood."
The state attorney's office announced its plans to appeal the Planned Parenthood decision just hours after U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten issued an injunction prohibiting the statute from taking effect and ordering the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to restore federal funding to the clinic.
"Title X was not intended to be an entitlement program for Planned Parenthood. Other providers are already offering a fuller spectrum of health care for Kansas patients," KDHE Secretary Robert Moser said Tuesday in a written statement. "This highly unusual ruling implies a private organization has a right to taxpayer subsidy. The people of Kansas disagree."
KDHE said Tuesday that it has not decided whether it would immediately restore the Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, pending the appeal by the attorney general's office.
Levy said he expected the appeals court to take "fairly prompt action" once the state files its appeal in the case. An appeals court decision on whether to grant a stay or not could happen within a few days or a week once it is filed.

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