FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JUNE 27, 2016

CONTACT:  DeAnn Smith, Director of Communications and Outreach, ACLU of Kansas, 913.490.4105, dsmith@aclukansas.org

OVERLAND PARK, KS – The U.S. Supreme Court issued a decisive ruling this morning in one of the most important women’s reproductive rights ruling since 1992. In Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the Court ruled against a Texas law that imposed difficult restrictions on reproductive healthcare providers, all with the goal of harassing and intimidating doctors into no longer performing abortion services.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas applauds the Court for striking down the Texas law.  When the Texas law was passed in 2013, Texas had 42 clinics providing abortion services. Since then, the number of clinics has dropped to 19. The number of in-state abortion providers could have dropped to as few as 10 if Texas had prevailed. That threat is no longer imminent, since the Supreme Court again ruled that a woman has the constitutional right to make decisions about her own healthcare and cannot face an undue burden in seeking a safe and legal abortion.

The Whole Women’s Health ruling is directly relevant to Kansas, a state on the front lines of the fight for reproductive freedom. Over the last five years, Kansas lawmakers have been engaged in an unprecedented, extremist campaign to make it hard for a woman to receive safe, legal reproductive healthcare.  About 75 percent of Kansas women live in a county without an abortion clinic. A woman in Kansas must receive state-mandated counseling and then wait 24 hours before the procedure. The same woman is forced to pay out of pocket as private insurers are blocked from abortion care services.  Numerous other restrictions—including one requiring hospital admitting privileges that is nearly identical to a provision struck down in the Texas law—have been passed but are not yet in effect.

As a result of the Court’s ruling, the ACLU of Kansas is calling on Gov. Sam Brownback and the 2017 Legislature to repeal the restrictions on reproductive healthcare. Micah W. Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, said:

“The Supreme Court’s decision reaffirms that a woman has a constitutional right to an abortion without unwarranted interference from politicians. The decision should send a loud signal to Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback and his extremist allies that they can no longer hide behind sham rationales to shut down clinics in Kansas and interfere in a medical decision that is best left to a woman, her family, and her doctor.

Gov. Brownback and Kansas legislators have passed the nation’s most extreme agenda of harassment and intimidation of woman and doctors. Kansas has attempted to block women from the most common method used in second-trimester abortions. This morning’s Supreme Court ruling demonstrates that Kansas’s outside-the-mainstream restrictions will not pass constitutional muster. In light of the Supreme Court’s decision, it is time for Kansas to repeal its dangerous, unnecessary, and unconstitutional restrictions on women’s healthcare. Lawmakers do not belong in the exam room.  We call on Gov. Brownback and lawmakers to stand up for women and stop blocking access to healthcare. They are wasting time and taxpayer money by continuing to pursue restrictions that won’t pass constitutional muster.”

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