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Kansas judge rules telemedicine abortions can continue

A Kansas judge ruled New Year’s Eve that the state of Kansas cannot stop so-called telemedicine abortions or “webcam abortions.” The decision comes after attempts by state lawmakers to prevent doctors from providing pregnancy-ending pills to women they see by remote video conferences.

District Judge Franklin Theis called the law, which is set to take effect this month, an “airball” stating it has no legal force. The law was state legislators’ third attempt in outlawing telemedicine abortions.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit on behalf of Trust Women Wichita over the state law. The Wichita abortion clinic started offering telemedicine abortions in October because their doctors live outside of Kansas and are only present two days a week.

Bob Eye, one of the attorneys for Trust Women, praised the judge’s decision, stating, “This is a good outcome.”

“That procedure by telemedicine is going to be legal after midnight (Monday), and the clinic will continue to offer it,” said Eye.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, called the ruling “infuriating.”

“This judge has a long history of taking laws designed by the legislature to protect unborn babies and women and turning them into laws that instead protect the abortion industry,” Culp charged.

Previous legislation from lawmakers was blocked by Theis in 2011 and 2015. The judge called his first injunction in 2011 a “safe harbor” for the Wichita clinic.

In 2013, a former Planned Parenthood manager, Sue Thayer exposed telemedicine abortions for what they were and this week called the actions not only unethical but “dangerous.”

Given that more conservative judges are now sitting on the Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood is pushing its “Care for All” plan to make sure states are able to allow abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

One of the plan’s steps includes “expanding where we offer telemedicine, and leveraging technology and innovation to help connect people to services,” the abortion provider states.