Federal Judge Carlos Murguia found that the temporary licensing regulations being imposed on abortion clinics in Kansas are likely impeding their rights to due process and granted a preliminary injunction to keep the regulations from being enforced until a full trial can be heard. Meanwhile conservative legislators are already working on a new set of permanent regulations that are likely to be just as stringent as those that Judge Murguia blocked.
The primary focus of these new licensing regulations was that they would force two of the state’s three abortion providers to shut down. Now that the injunction has been granted and all of the clinics can remain open (at least for now) the focus is shifting towards other repercussions these regulations would have should the court end up ruling in favor of the regulations. One issue in particular is getting the most attention and that is the regulation which states that “all records shall be available at the facility for inspection” by state officials.
I can’t see how this regulation could possibly be enforceable considering that Kansas has existing laws regarding Doctor-Patient Privilege which guarantee patient privacy unless waived BY the patient. The only time state officials can require a doctor to release records without patient consent is if the patient has HIV/AIDS. So basically unless they want to require that doctors break the law they either can’t enforce this regulation should the court end up ruling in favor of the requirements or the state government will have to pass a second bill to alter the existing civil statutes to allow an exemption. Of course that exemption would likely be challenged and overturned if it singled out abortion providers. They could mandate the same requirements for all medical providers, but I don’t think many Kansans will stand for that violation of privacy, no matter how ardently anti-choice they are.
The pre-existing privacy statutes were clearly not a concern to legislators during the initial creation of the temporary regulations and are unlikely to be a concern during the preparation of the permanent regulations they are hoping to have in place by October. It seems that abortion providers in the state on Kansas will not be left in peace by the conservative government anytime in the foreseeable future, but at least the regulations being passed are so extreme and blatantly biased that they are unlikely to withstand scrutiny by the states Supreme Court.
Check out what Rachel Maddow and her interview with two of the doctors being impacted by all this! To skip to information about the privacy rules and the actual interview go to 5 minutes 30 seconds.