Kansas court order allows for telemedicine abortion care

A Kansas court decision this week will allow abortion clinics in the state to provide medication abortions through telemedicine.
Published: Nov. 25, 2022 at 6:15 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A Kansas court decision this week will allow abortion clinics in the state to provide medication abortions through telemedicine. On Wednesday, Nov. 23, a Shawnee County District Court judge stopped the enforcement of legislation that prohibited doctors from prescribing abortion pills via telemedicine. The state law passed in 2011 required doctors to have a physical presence when initially administering medication to induce an abortion.

The FDA-approved medication abortion is a two-pill process that can be used up to 10 weeks into a pregnancy.

The temporary injunction is a win for abortion rights supporters in the state.

In 219, Trust Women, a Wichita abortion provider, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit that challenged Kansas’ law preventing doctors from using telemedicine for medication abortions.

Center for Reproductive Rights President Nancy Northup issued a statement in response to the judges ruling this week, saying in part, “In this post-Roe world, telemedicine can make the difference in being able to receive abortion care or not.”

Trust Women Co-Executive Director Rebecca Tong, pointed to abortion bans in Texas and Oklahoma leading to more people seeking abortion care in Kansas.

“As we continue to provide health care for thousands of medically disenfranchised people across the Midwest and South, access to telemedicine services for Kansans will go a long way to easing the strain on our reproductive health care systems in the state,” Tong wrote.

Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO Emily Wales said in a statement, “We applaud this step towards increasing accessibility to abortion services and continue to evaluate our next steps. It shouldn’t be news when a medication that’s safer than many over-the-counter drugs is approved for more widespread use, but the reality is that safety and efficacy isn’t at the heart of this conversation about health care. As other states further restrict care and violate citizens’ fundamental rights, Kansas remains a place that respects patients.”

Abortion rights opponent Chuck Weber with the Kansas Catholic Conference said the judge’s order this week was not surprising. He said the decision is bad for women because it removes doctors from physically having to see patients during the medication abortion process.

“Without an exam, how can the woman’s health really be first and foremost? It’s impossible,” Weber said. “You cannot do that in a Zoom call. So, this is one of our major concerns.”

Kansas law still requires a woman to receive an ultrasound and counseling before receiving an abortion. Weber said with August’s defeat of a constitutional amendment on abortion, it could lead to legal challenges to the state’s abortion laws.

“First in a long line of abortion restrictions and laws that are designed to protect and save babies that are going to be blown out the window by the courts,” Weber said.

Data from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) shows last year, medication abortion accounted for 68% of abortions in Kansas. The latest order doesn’t settle the law, as the case is still pending in Shawnee District Court.