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Kansas to appeal ruling blocking abortion rules, including a medication restriction

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Republican attorney general in Kansas is appealing a state judge’s ruling that has blocked enforcement of multiple abortion restrictions, including a new limit on medication and an older rule forcing patients to wait 24 hours before they can get the procedure.

Attorney General Kris Kobach filed a notice Thursday in Johnson County District Court in the Kansas City area, saying he will ask higher courts to overturn Judge K. Christopher Jayaram's decision last month. The judge concluded that abortion providers were likely to successfully argue in a lawsuit that the restrictions violate the Kansas Constitution.

“The attorney general has a responsibility to protect women against radicals who want to deny them the ability to make informed decisions about their own health and the welfare of their babies,” Kobach spokesperson Danedri Herbert said in an email.

Jayaram's order is set to remain in effect through a trial of the providers' lawsuit at the end of June 2024. Some of the blocked restrictions have been in place for years. The state imposed its waiting period in 1997.

The newest restriction, in place July 1, required providers to tell patients that a medication abortion can be stopped. But the regimen to do that has been described by major medical groups as inadequately tested, ineffective and potentially unsafe.

The legal battle in Kansas highlights the importance of state courts in attempts to preserve access after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson last year ended protections under the U.S. Constitution and allowed states to ban abortion.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the state constitution protects access to abortion as a “fundamental” right. In August 2022, voters statewide rejected a proposed constitutional change from Republican lawmakers to nullify that decision and allow greater restrictions or a ban.

Abortion opponents argue that even with last year's vote, the state can impose “reasonable” restrictions and ensure that patients are well-informed.

But Jayaram concluded there is "credible evidence” that up to 40% of the information that clinics were required to provide before an abortion was medically inaccurate.

“Kansans made it clear they don’t want politicians interfering with their health care decisions and the courts reaffirmed that right," said Anamarie Rebori-Simmons, spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Great Plains, which operates a Kansas City-area clinic that sued. "The attorney general continues to disregard the will of those he serves.”