Kansas Judge’s Ruling Spotlights Fight Over Teleconference Abortions

TOPEKA, Kansas (BP) — Pro-life Kansans received a blow last week when a judge ruled in favor of abortions by teleconference, something many reportedly thought was already prohibited in their state.

Tele-abortions allow a woman to end her baby’s life without visiting an abortion center. An abortionist can video conference with a pregnant woman from a remote location and immediately prescribe her abortion-inducing drugs. The arrangement leaves women vulnerable to medical complications without a provider close by to treat them.

Shawnee County District Judge Franklin Theis ruled Dec. 31 that a 2018 law safeguarding unborn babies from tele-abortion was invalid and the practice had been legal in Kansas since 2011, when a court order in a different case blocked a similar law. But Kansas state legislators passed another law in 2015 prohibiting tele-abortions.

“Everybody we know, including the pro-abortion groups and our attorney general and our advisers in the state capital, considered the 2015 law operable and in effect and this judge’s claim to be wrong,” Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, told me.

Abortionists, she said, had even been obeying the law by not performing tele-abortions until last fall, when the issue came up again because of language in a broader bill about telemedicine in Kansas.

“Judge Theis is standing like a sentinel in front of the abortion clinics in not letting the 2011 law out from under his grasp, even though he’s wrong in saying the 2015 telemedicine law didn’t replace it, because it did,” Culp said.

Rachel Busick, an attorney with Americans United for Life, said the case of the 2011 telemedicine law is still at the trial stage. Until Theis rules on that law, legislators’ hands are tied.

Part of the reason the 2011 telemedicine law didn’t immediately stand up to a lawsuit, according to Busick, was that it didn’t include a provision for medical emergency for the mother. One of the challenges pro-life legislators face, she said, is to “ensure that [a proposed law] has the necessary provisions and framework to give it the best possible chance to survive any court challenge.”

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Source: Baptist Press