Planned Parenthood, Kansas in legal dispute - KCTV5 News

Planned Parenthood, Kansas in legal dispute

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Planned Parenthood sued the state of Kansas in federal court Monday over funding issues. But the agency also said it may have to close its doors because of new regulations imposed by the Kansas Legislature.

Planned Parenthood filed the lawsuit because Kansas' upcoming budget prevents the Overland Park-based agency from receiving federal family planning dollars. The agency alleged in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Kansas City, KS, that Kansas is violating the organization's free speech rights and due process rights.

Kansas said the state's portion of federal family planning dollars must go first to public health departments and hospitals. Gov. Sam Brownback's office said the funding change will help close a budget shortfall.

Abortion right advocates fear that Kansas will become the first state without a licensed abortion provider.

But Mary Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said in a statement Monday afternoon that the family planning dollars should go toward indigent health clinics, not an abortion provider.

"It is just plain bad practice to give tax dollars to prevent pregnancies to an organization that makes more money when they fail to do so," Culp said. "This wish by taxpayers not to subsidize Kansas abortions should be lauded and honored, not sued."

The lawsuit comes on the heels of another dispute over whether the state will continue to provider licenses to three abortion providers. The state has already denied one of the three providers, Kansas City, KS-based Aid for Women, a license to continue providing abortions.

The KCK agency can no longer provide abortions after June 30, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said. Representatives for the agency either declined comment or did not return telephone calls seeking comment Monday.

Ronnie Metsker, chairman of the Johnson County's Republican Party, said the state is ensuring that women receive safe places for abortions.

"The bill seems pretty straightforward to me. It's here are the regulations, meet the regulations, go through the inspection and then continue," Metsker told KCTV 5's Heather Staggers.   

But Dr. Herbert Hodes, who provides abortions through the Overland Park-based Center of Women's health, said state officials are attempting to shut down all abortion providers in Kansas. He said the regulations are unreasonable.

"This is purely political. It's a witch hunt. It has nothing to do with public safety. It's a way to eliminate performing abortions in this state," he told Staggers.

He said guidelines established by doctors nearly a decade ago have served women well.

Hodes said an example of the unreasonable nature of the new guidelines is one demands how much custodial space is provided. He said an office with 96 square feet would require 300 square feet to hold a bucket, a mop and room disinfectant.

If the three providers stop providing abortions, then women would have to travel to Tulsa or St. Louis for an abortion, abortion-rights supporters said. They fear this would drive women to seek "back alley abortions."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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