That would leave Kansas worse off than South Dakota, where there is only a single clinic providing abortions with once-a-week visits by doctors from Minnesota. The state-by-state effort to make legal abortions ever more difficult to obtain has been intense in 2011, with more legislation enacted this year than in any other single year since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade 38 years ago.
All of the clinics provide a wide range of family planning services.
The Aid for Women clinic, in Kansas City, was denied its license without an inspection last week. Unless the courts intervene, it will have to close its doors by July 1. The clinic's director expected the denial since the rented space was too small to meet the new standards and he does not have the required visiting privileges with a local hospital. Neither he nor other abortion providers think the regulatory requirements are necessary to run a safe clinic. Finding alternative space is difficult in Kansas because of harassment by anti-abortion forces.
The new regulations and inspection regime were just passed by the legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback in May. Previous attempts to get such regulations on the books had made it through the legislature but been vetoed under Democratic governors.
The law is one of more than 900 measures introduced across the country since the beginning of the year. You can see the latest (June 1) update by Guttmacher here and a table of changes for the whole year here.
The licensing procedure is part of a long-standing effort by anti-abortion crusaders called TRAP laws, "targeted regulation of abortion providers. Critics have pointed out that the Kansas law, like new regulatory laws in Utah and Virginia, only go after clinics that provide abortions, not other outpatient facilities whose surgical procedures have equivalent risks to patients.
A second Kansas clinic, Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, was inspected for more than 20 hours over two days last week, according to Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. His view is that the clinic met all the requirements of the new regulations and should get a license. But he told The New York Times last Friday that he thought the clinic might be denied a license anyway. He's prepared to go to court if it is.
The third clinic, also in Overland Park, will be inspected Wednesday:
Dr. Herbert Hodes, who has operated a practice in Overland Park for 34 years with a wide array of obstetric and gynecological services, called the new regulations—the latest versions of which were issued only a week ago—bizarre and “out of date with modern medicine.” Among the provisions for which he said he might be deemed out of compliance: a rule that procedure rooms be at least 150 square feet in size and that storage areas for “janitorial supplies and equipment” be at least 50 square feet per procedure room.
Meanwhile, HB 125, proposed by Ohio Republican Rep. Lynn R. Wachtmann, would prohibit abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected. That's typically six or seven weeks after conception, a time before many women even realize they are pregnant. The bill includes no exceptions for rape, incest, or health of the mother.
Even some supporters believe the proposal is probably unconstitutional, but want to go ahead with it anyway. If passed and signed by the governor, the bill, which already has support from 49 Ohio representatives, just one short of what is needed for approval, would confront Roe v. Wade head-on. That's a key reason Ohio Right to Life has opposed the bill.
Like many other states, Ohio is also considering several additional attacks on legal abortion, including barring publicly funded hospitals in the state from performing the procedure.
Update: As noted in anastasia p's diary here, the Ohio House of Representatives passed the fetal heartbeat bill today.