This year has been a record year in anti-choice legislation. Naral Pro-Choice President Nancy Keenan has called 2011 “one of the top five worst years for women.” The past few weeks however have brought a number of small, but hopefully significant triumphs. Judges in multiple states have decided in favor of abortion providers in various suits going on across the country.
In Indiana, Judge Tanya Pratt decided in favor of Planned Parenthood in a recent lawsuit seeking an injunction against a piece of legislation that, because they provide abortions, would have defunded Planned Parenthood as a Medicaid provider. Judge Pratt awarded the injunction stating that Planned Parenthood demonstrated a “reasonable likelihood of success” in their lawsuit to completely overturn the bill. As part of the injunction Judge Pratt also decided that requiring providers to tell their patients that according to so called “objective scientific information” a fetus can feel pain at or before 20 weeks gestation. Lawmakers in Indiana are likely to seek an appeal of this decision, though have not done so at this time.
In South Dakota, Judge Karen Schreier also sided with Planned Parenthood; this time against legislation that would have forced a mandatory 72 hour on women seeking abortions. The bill also stipulated that during this waiting period a woman is legally required to visit a state registered Crisis Pregnancy Center. Yes, those Crisis Pregnancy Centers. In a state with only one abortion provider, a 72 hour waiting period is absurd. Forcing women to take off multiple days from work AND either pay to stay in a hotel or drive potentially hundreds of miles is just plain mean. Luckily Judge Schreier granted the injunction, stating that a law mandating a woman to go to a CPC is a requirement that “humiliates and degrades her as a human being.” As of now, no decision has been made as to whether lawmakers in South Dakota will appeal the decision or not.
Hopefully the trend will continue in Kansas, where abortion providers are seeking an injunction against new licensing requirements that have already shut down 2 of the state’s 3 abortion clinics. The Center for Reproductive Rights is representing two abortion providers who were denied a license after failing to meet the new requirements; though they only had two weeks between getting the requirements from the state and the deadline to have them enacted. The states 3rd provider, a Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, was initially also denied a license, but after filing their own lawsuit on Thursday, a second inspection was granted. This time they passed and were awarded the states only license. Until an injunction is granted there will only be one abortion provider in the whole of Kansas. They also provide for a good portion of women who live in states that border Kansas because it is closer to them. An initial hearing is set for today to determine if an injunction will be granted on behalf of the two providers who were denied a license; fingers crossed the judge in Kansas is able to see through this blatant attempt to ban abortion.