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Trust Women Foundation, Inc. v. Schmidt


The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of an abortion provider challenging a provision of HB 2028, Kansas’s Telemedicine Act, which effectively bans the delivery of any abortion procedures via telemedicine, including medication abortion.

Plaintiffs allege that the ban singles out the provision of abortion care from all other medical care and therefore violates the rights of plaintiffs’ patients guaranteed by the Kansas constitution because it unduly burdens their fundamental right to terminate a previable pregnancy, and violates the rights of plaintiffs’ patients to equal protection under Kansas law because it treats pregnant people seeking abortion differently from similarly situated patients seeking all other forms of medical care delivered via telemedicine.

The law prohibits abortion via telemedicine, which has been banned under state law since 2011 with the passage of SB 36 (codified at K.S.A. § 65-4a10). The original law requires a physician be present when a pregnant person takes an abortion-inducing drug. In response to a court battle over the law (see Hodes & Nauser v. Moser), the requirement was amended in 2015 by HB 2228, which clarified that only the initial dose of mifepristone must be administered in the presence of a physician.

STATUS

In 2011, the Kansas legislature passed  SB 36 (codified at K.S.A. § 65-4a10), special licensing regulations on abortion clinics which included a telemedicine ban. That law required that a physician be present when a pregnant person takes an abortion-inducing drug. Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis blocked those regulations in 2011. (see Hodes & Nauser v. Moser, which is still pending).

In 2015,  the Kansas legislature passed HB 2228, another version of the telemedicine abortion ban, which amended the original ban (SB 36) to clarify that only the initial dose of mifepristone must be administered in the presence of a physician.

On December 31, 2018, Judge Theis ruled that his 2011 order blocking SB 36 also blocked 2015’s HB 2228, calling his 2011 order blocking the ban a “safe harbor” for the Plaintiff abortion provider. In addition, he dismissed the case challenging HB 2028 without prejudice, ruling that the lawsuit is unnecessary; he ruled that HB 2028 cannot take effect because he issued an injunction blocking the telemedicine ban in 2011 and the lawsuit challenging that ban is still pending. (See Hodes & Nauser v. Moser.)

In short, the telemedicine ban remains blocked.

DOCUMENTS

Complaint, November 8, 2018

District Court Order Dismissing Lawsuit, December 31, 2018

**last updated January 3, 2019


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