Hodes & Nauser, MDS, P.A. v. Schmidt

Citation368 P.3d 667,52 Kan.App.2d 274
Decision Date22 January 2016
Docket NumberNo. 114,153.,114,153.
Parties HODES & NAUSER, MDs, P.A.; Herbert C. Hodes, M.D.; and Traci Lynn Nauser, M.D., Appellees, v. Derek SCHMIDT, in His Official Capacity as Attorney General of the State of Kansas; and Stephen M. Howe, in His Official Capacity as District Attorney for Johnson County, Appellants.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Kansas

Stephen R. McAllister, solicitor general, Shon D. Qualseth, and Sarah E. Warner, of Thompson Ramsdell Qualseth & Warner, P.A., of Lawrence, Jeffrey A. Chanay, chief deputy attorney general, and Dennis D. Depew, deputy attorney general, for appellants.

Erin Thompson, of Thompson Law Firm, LLC, of Wichita, Robert V. Eye and Brett A. Jarmer, of Robert V. Eye Law Office, LLC, of Lawrence, Teresa A. Woody, of The Woody Law Firm PC, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Janet Crepps, Genevieve Scott, and Zoe Levine, of Center for Reproductive Rights, of New York, New York, for appellees.

Kevin M. Smith, of Law Offices of Kevin M. Smith, P.A., of Wichita, and Paul Benjamin Linton, of Thomas More Society, of Northbrook, Illinois, for amicus curiae The Family Research Council.

Frederick J. Patton II, of Topeka, for amicus curiae Kansans for Life, Inc.

Mark P. Johnson, of Dentons US LLP, of Kansas City, Missouri, for amici curiae Kansas Physicians.

Don Saxton, of Saxton Law Firm LLC, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kimberly A. Parker, Skye L. Perryman, Brittani Kirkpatrick Ivey, and Souvik Saha, of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, of Washington, D.C., for amicus curiae American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

En Banc.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

LEBEN, J.

The 2015 Kansas Legislature passed a bill, signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback, that outlawed the most common method of second-trimester abortions

. Before the law's July 1 effective date, a state district court entered a temporary injunction that kept the law from taking effect.

The district court based its order on provisions of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights, concluding that they provide the same right to abortion as the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The State has appealed, contending that there is no abortion right under the Kansas Constitution.

But the Kansas Supreme Court has said for nearly a century that sections 1 and 2 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights have "much the same effect" as the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution. State v. Limon, 280 Kan. 275, 283, 122 P.3d 22 (2005) ; State ex rel. Stephan v. Parrish, 257 Kan. 294, Syl. ¶ 5, 891 P.2d 445 (1995) ; State ex rel. Tomasic v. Kansas City, Kansas Port Authority, 230 Kan. 404, 426, 636 P.2d 760 (1981) ; Manzanares v. Bell, 214 Kan. 589, 602, 522 P.2d 1291 (1974) ; Henry v. Bauder, 213 Kan. 751, 752–53, 518 P.2d 362 (1974) ; Tri–State Hotel Co. v. Londerholm, 195 Kan. 748, Syl. ¶ 1, 408 P.2d 877 (1965) ; State v. Wilson, 101 Kan. 789, 795–96, 168 P. 679 (1917). And a right to abortion has been recognized under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution for more than 40 years. Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 153, 93 S.Ct. 705, 35 L.Ed.2d 147 (1973). We therefore conclude that sections 1 and 2 of the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights provide the same protection for abortion rights as the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; the district court correctly determined that the Kansas Constitution Bill of Rights provides a right to abortion.

The State also argues that even if Kansas had such a right, the new Kansas statute would not unduly burden women seeking to exercise that right. But the United States Supreme Court held in Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914, 938, 945–46, 120 S.Ct. 2597, 147 L.Ed.2d 743 (2000), that a Nebraska statute that outlawed both the type of abortion at issue here and another less-common procedure unduly burdened abortion rights and was unconstitutional. Kansas already bans the less-common procedure, so the new law would put Kansas in the same position as Nebraska before its statute was found to be unconstitutional. Based on Stenberg, there is a substantial likelihood that the Kansas statute is unconstitutional, so the district court properly entered a temporary injunction.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

The legislature called the law at issue here the Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. With limited exceptions, the statute would ban what the medical profession calls a "dilation and evacuation" or "D & E" abortion, the primary method for second-trimester abortions

in the United States. K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 65–6741 et seq.

; L. 2015, ch. 22. The plaintiffs, two board-certified obstetrician-gynecologists and their medical practice, seek to continue performing D & E abortions. The plaintiffs perform abortions only up to 21.6 weeks from the woman's last menstrual period, which means that the fetus is not yet viable, i.e., able to survive outside the womb. See Alpha Med. Clinic v. Anderson, 280 Kan. 903, Syl. ¶ 4, 128 P.3d 364 (2006).

Because we are reviewing a law that seeks to ban an abortion method and because the State defends that law in part by arguing that alternative methods are available, we must describe and discuss abortion procedures. Faced with the same task, Justice Stephen G. Breyer provided these introductory comments, with which we agree:

"Considering the fact that [these] procedures seek to terminate a potential human life, our discussion may seem clinically cold or callous to some, perhaps horrifying to others. There is no alternative way, however, to acquaint the reader with the technical distinctions among different abortion methods and related factual matters, upon which the outcome of this case depends." Stenberg, 530 U.S. at 923, 120 S.Ct. 2597.

We will start by describing two abortion procedures—D & E and a variant called intact D & E, both described in the Supreme Court's Stenberg opinion. D & E is the most common method, used in about 95% of second-trimester abortions

(about 10% of all abortions performed in the United States are done in the second trimester). In this procedure, the physician dilates the cervix and uses surgical instruments to remove the fetus by pulling it "through the cervix into the birth canal." 530 U.S. at 925, 120 S.Ct. 2597. Put bluntly, if the fetus is too large to fit through the cervix, friction against the cervix causes the fetus to tear apart. Performing this D & E procedure on a living, though nonviable, fetus (as commonly done) would be banned by the Kansas statute at issue here.

K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 65–6742(b)(1) ; K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 65–6743(a) ; L. 2015, ch. 22, secs. 2–3.

Although D & E is quite safe for the woman, it does carry some risks, like any medical procedure. For example, as the fetus tears, sharp bone fragments can cause accidental uterine perforations. In addition, the more times an instrument passes into the uterus, the greater the risk of infections or perforations caused by the instrument. To reduce these risks, some doctors at one time preferred using the intact D & E procedure. In that method, the doctor pulls the fetus through the cervix intact by collapsing the skull. Kansas has banned the intact D & E abortion procedure (also called a partial-birth abortion) since 1998. See K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 65–6721 ; L. 1998, ch. 142, sec. 18; L. 2011, ch. 91, sec. 30.

As part of its argument that the new Kansas statute does not violate any abortion right a woman might have, the State contends that the statute does not unduly burden that right—or make it too difficult to exercise—since alternative abortion methods would still be available. More specifically, the State has suggested three alternatives to the standard D & E procedure: labor-induction abortion, inducing fetal demise with digoxin

injections, and inducing fetal demise by cutting the umbilical cord (also known as transection). A labor-induction abortion uses a combination of drugs that induce labor and delivery of the nonviable fetus. See Planned Parenthood of Southwest Ohio Region v. DeWine, 696 F.3d 490, 494–95 (6th Cir.2012). The other options (inducing fetal demise by digoxin or transection) would add additional procedures onto the D & E abortion so that fetal demise occurs before the fetus is removed. If the fetus is no longer alive when the doctor proceeds with the D & E procedure, that would not violate the new Kansas statute, which forbids dismemberment only when it involves "a living unborn child." K.S.A. 2015 Supp. 65–6742(b)(1) ; L. 2015, ch. 22, sec. 2.

This case has reached us after the entry of a temporary injunction, which often must be considered in a short time period. That was true here: the statute was signed by the Governor on April 7, 2015; the case was filed on June 1; and the district court had to consider whether to prevent the statute from taking effect on July 1. "The purpose of a preliminary injunction is merely to preserve the relative positions of the parties until a trial on the merits can be held." University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395, 101 S.Ct. 1830, 68 L.Ed.2d 175 (1981) ; see also Steffes v. City of Lawrence, 284 Kan. 380, 394, 160 P.3d 843 (2007). Accordingly, requests for temporary injunction are often considered based on written testimony submitted by the parties. See K.S.A. 60–902. Here, the plaintiffs submitted written testimony from three physicians: Dr. Traci Lynn Nauser, one of the plaintiffs and a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist; Dr. Anne Davis, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist and an associate professor at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City; and Dr. David Orentlicher, who has both a medical degree and a law degree and serves as both a professor of law at the Robert H. McKinney School of Law at Indiana University and an adjunct professor of medicine at the Indiana University...

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  • Hopkins v. Jegley
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Arkansas
    • 5 Enero 2021
    ...848, 869, 872 (S.D. Ohio 2019) (preliminarily enjoining Ohio Rev. Code § 2919.15(B) ); Hodes & Nauser, MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt , 52 Kan.App.2d 274, 368 P.3d 667, 670-71, 677-78 (2016), aff'd , 309 Kan. 610, 440 P.3d 461, 467–68, 504 (2019) (affirming temporary injunction of Kan. Stat. Ann. § 6......
  • Planned Parenthood of the Heartland v. Reynolds ex rel. State
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    • 29 Junio 2018
    ...under the Indiana Constitution that is "the equivalent of Casey 's undue burden test"); Hodes & Nauser, MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt , 52 Kan.App.2d 274, 368 P.3d 667, 676 (2016) (en banc), review granted (Apr. 11, 2016); Fordice , 716 So.2d at 655 ; Nixon , 185 S.W.3d at 691–92 ; see also Planned ......
  • Hodes & Nauser, MDS, P.A. v. Schmidt
    • United States
    • Kansas Supreme Court
    • 26 Abril 2019
    ...appealed from this temporary injunction to the Court of Appeals. That court, sitting en banc, split 6-1-7. Hodes & Nauser, MDs v. Schmidt , 52 Kan. App. 2d 274, 368 P.3d 667 (2016). Seven of the judges concluded that the Kansas Constitution protects a woman's access to abortion services and......
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    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Kentucky
    • 10 Mayo 2019
    ...grant of a temporary injunction that enjoined fetal-demise legislation like that at issue here. Hodes & Nauser MDs, P.A. v. Schmidt , 52 Kan.App.2d 274, 368 P.3d 667 (2016) (en banc). The Court of Appeals concluded that, "[g]iven the additional risk, inconvenience, discomfort, and potential......
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1 books & journal articles
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    • United States
    • Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law No. XXII-2, January 2021
    • 1 Enero 2021
    ...217 F. Supp. 3d 1313, 1348 (M.D. Ala. 2016), aff’d, W. Ala. Women’s Ctr. v. Williamson, 900 F.3d 1310 (11th Cir. 2018); Hodes v. Schmidt, 368 P.3d 667 (Kan. Ct. App. 2016) (aff‌irming the state district court’s grant of a temporary injunction because the court was equally divided); Burns v.......

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