AP: Kansas abortion clinic inspected under new state law

6/22/2011

OVERLAND PARK (AP) — Kansas launched an inspection today of a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Kansas City suburbs, ahead of a decision by its health department on whether the state's three abortion clinics will be allowed to continue operating after June.

OVERLAND PARK (AP) — Kansas launched an inspection today of a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Kansas City suburbs, ahead of a decision by its health department on whether the state's three abortion clinics will be allowed to continue operating after June.

Three inspectors from the Department of Health and Environment arrived in the morning for what officials at Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri said was a two-day review of operations at its clinic in Overland Park. The department has told the state's other two clinics, also in the Kansas City area, that they'll be inspected by the end of the month.

The department is inspecting the clinics under a law enacted this year mandating health and safety standards and a special licensing process for abortion providers. The agency drafted the regulations in the weeks after Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, signed the law last month and finished its latest version Friday.

Abortion rights supporters are suspicious of the licensing process because of Brownback's stance and because anti-abortion groups and legislators pushed the law. Officials at the Planned Parenthood chapter fear none of the three clinics will get licensed, forcing them to shut down July 1, when the law takes effect.

"This is a political process," Peter Brownlie, the Planned Parenthood chapter's president and chief executive officer, told The Associated Press. "The law that was enacted, was enacted for political purposes and not for health and safety purposes."

Still, Brownlie said Planned Parenthood is confident its clinic can meet the new standards.

Planned Parenthood did not allow reporters inside its parking lot or on its clinic's grounds, and the inspectors entered the building without stopping to speak to reporters. A spokeswoman for the department in Topeka did not immediately return a telephone message today.

But backers of the new law contend it will protect the health and safety of the clinics' patients.

Joseph Kroll, director of the bureau that drafted the rules, said Tuesday that his staff conducted research as lawmakers discussed the legislation and reviewed standards from other states and the American Institute of Architects. The new rules tell clinics how much space they must have for various areas and what equipment and drugs must be on hand.

Clinic operators contend it's unfair for the state to draft the regulations so quickly and expect compliance by July. Kroll said the department had no choice under the new law.

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