Stacked Deck: Wichita Abortion Business Sues to Block Webcam Abortion Ban in Biased Court

By Cheryl Sullenger

When the Trust Women abortion business in Wichita, Kansas, filed a constitutional challenge to House Bill 2028, known as the Kansas Telemedicine Act, which is a new law that prevents webcam abortions, they did something that was once unheard of.

They filed their challenge in the Shawnee County Court instead of Federal Court.

Why chose the county court? It is because the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals is a more conservative court where they perhaps had a slimmer chance of prevailing. Instead, they sought rulings in state and county courts where liberal judges can be hand-picked, and where the ultra-liberal Kansas Supreme Court will have their backs.

The webcam abortion challenge will be heard by Judge Franklin R. Theis, the same judge who, for the past decade, has heard nearly all abortion-related cases in Kansas.

It was Judge Theis who, between 2012 and 2017, twice ordered the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to reconsider license revocation orders against abortionist Ann Kristen Neuhaus, which caused the Board to revoke her license three separate times.

Neuhaus had been accused of violating patient care standards with appallingly incompetent mental health determinations that allowed late-term abortions to be conducted on eleven minor girls. She was the second physician needed to sign off on all late-term abortions done at a now-defunct late-term abortion facility in Wichita. She used phony mental health excuses that she arrived at by using a student psychology training program, which spit out dubious diagnoses that were neither “substantial” or “irreversible” as required by law.

Nevertheless, Judge Theis threw out the patient care breeches and ordered the Board to re-discipline Neuhaus for record keeping violations, then later ordered the Board to reconsider its second revocation decision once again because he considered Neuhaus’ discipline “too harsh.”

“Judge Theis’ pro-abortion bias was extremely evident during the Neuhaus case, which began with a complaint filed by our office,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “We are just thankful that the Kansas Board of Healing Arts stood their ground and protected women from Neuhaus’ incompetence.”

But the Neuhaus case was only the beginning of Theis’ demonstration of bias when it came to abortion-related cases.

2011 Clinic Licensing Law

In 2011, the Kansas Legislature passed a clinic licensing law that included a requirement that abortionists maintain hospital privileges within 30 miles of the facility where they did abortions. It also mandated annual facility inspections, banned webcam abortions, and set common sense facility standards.

That law was challenged in Theis’ courtroom where it still languishes nearly eight years later. For two and a half years from June 2012 to January 2015, there was absolutely no movement on the case whatsoever. Most of the docket entries since then have been related to a revolving door of attorneys leaving and joining the case. Theis has shown no motivation to move the case forward at anything but a glacial pace – and the so-called “pro-life” Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt seems all too pleased to allow this interminable delay.

“Dereck Schmidt has never been a friend to the pro-life supporters in Kansas. He is all about giving lip service to our faces, then protects dangerous abortionists behind our backs,” said Newman. “He was involved in dropping 107 criminal charges against Planned Parenthood, which were never heard on their merits. He just wanted the case to end and be forgotten. Now, sadly, he can’t be trusted to vigorously defend the Kansas Telemedicine Act.”

Planned Parenthood in Overland Park had been charged with illegal late-term abortions and manufacturing evidence to cover up their crimes – all for which they were never held accountable.

Liberal Kansas Supreme Court

Should the state defend the Telemedicine Act, it is bound to end up before the liberally-bent Kansas Supreme Court. In a case that illustrates the Kansas Supreme Court’s penchant to protect abortionists, the Court heard an appeal on a constitutional challenge to a 2015 law that banned dismemberment abortions. The banned procedure, known as Dilation and Evacuation, is commonly done in the second trimester of pregnancy.

Two years after the challenge was first filed by Traci Nauser and Herbert Hodes, a father-daughter abortion team from Overland Park, the Supreme Court finally heard oral arguments on March 16, 2017. A decision in that case was expected within six weeks. A year and eight months later, the Court has yet to release a decision.

“If the State Constitution supported the abortionists, the Kansas Supreme Court would have released a ruling long ago,” said Newman. “The solution to releasing a decision that is unfavorable to abortionists is to simply not release one at all. It’s such a ridiculous situation and there seems to be no recourse.”

Webcam Abortion “Access”

Meanwhile, the new Trust Women challenge of the Kansas Telemedicine Act complains loudly – if not elegantly – about abortion being “singled out” for restriction.

Trust Women has recently begun conducting webcam abortions as a solution to bringing in abortionists from out-of-state. The process involves an abortionist in one location prescribing abortion drugs to women in another location – perhaps even in another state – using an Internet video call.

Before conducting webcam abortions, Trust Women could only do abortions two days per week despite claiming to have five abortionists available.

In an environment nationwide where demand for abortion services is falling to historically low levels according to a recent CDC report, there is much competition nationwide for every abortion dollar. Kansas is no exception. Conducting abortions only two abortion days per week likely could not pay the bills, much less provide profit. Now, Trust Women has come to depend on webcam abortions to expand the area from which they can trawl for customers. This is their only means of expanding business in an ever-contracting market.

Trust Women states in their suit, “Requiring the physician to be physically present to examine the patient prior to administering medication abortion [sic] creates undue burdens for women seeking abortion by restricting their access to safe abortion care.”

In other words, they argue that if their business expansion plans are blocked by the new law that requires in-person consultation with a licensed physician, it will create an undue burden on their potential new customers!

Trust Women has already expanded to clinics in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Seattle, Washington — and they have plans to further expand into other “underserved areas” and extend hours to include evenings.

So, while claiming that this is about “abortion access” for “underserved areas” it is really about a desperate move to expand profits.

Phony Doctor/Patient Relationship

But what of the doctor-patient relationship? That is something for which abortionists have never shown much concern — except for when they are in court trying to push back legislation that will prevent them from making money.

Trust Women claims that “a face-to-face meeting is not necessary, or even important, to establish a physician-patient relationship.”

“It’s hard to have much of a doctor-patient relationship when you only see the abortionist for a couple of minutes over a Skype connection,” said Newman. “To have someone who has never examined the patient dishing out powerful drugs to women over the Internet is irresponsible.”

Chemical Abortion Complications

As for the claim that Trust Women provides “safe abortion care,” evidence exists that shows chemical abortions are not as safe as they would have Judge Theis and the rest of us believe.

Chemical abortions are most commonly done using two drugs. The first, Mifepristone, also known as Mifeprex and RU486, blocks pregnancy hormones and tricks the body into thinking it is no longer pregnant. This drug is usually taken at the clinic in front of the prescribing abortionist.

The second drug, Misoprostol, also known as Cytotec, induces strong, painful contractions that expel the baby and the rest of the pregnancy tissue from the body. This drug is taken outside the clinic. Expulsion of the baby’s remains can be an unpredictable, lengthy process.

According to Trust Women’s own website, medication abortions are “95 percent effective.” That means five percent of the women experience failed or incomplete abortions, which is this method’s most common complication.

While precious little data is available concerning chemical abortion complications that has not been tainted by abortion industry bias, in Ohio, at least abortionists are required to report all complications from chemical abortions and how the complication was treated.

Operation Rescue obtained the state complications reporting forms through a public records request, analyzed them, and produced an exposé that was published in July 2018.

During the two-year time period of 2016-2017, when a total of 165 complications were reported, four women were hospitalized after taking mifepristone, and two required blood transfusions. At least 155 women experienced incomplete or failed abortions. Out of those, 126 required surgery to complete their abortions.

Even Trust Women’s complaint against the new Kansas law states that there is no difference in the complication rate whether women take the drugs with a physician present or not. But what they don’t say is that when those complications happen – and they will happen – with the webcam process, a licensed physician won’t be there for the women. Those women have to make their way on their own to an emergency room or to their own doctor where their complications can be treated.

“Webcam abortions are a roll of the dice for many women. The complication rate for chemical abortions is already higher than surgical abortions, and the webcam process just adds another layer of problems for women,” said Newman. “Despite all the fallacious arguments made by Trust Women and the dangers to women who are left with virtually no emergency plan when something goes wrong, the there are dismal chances that Judge Theis will uphold the law because of his bias.”

Stacked Deck

As the Federal judiciary is transformed by the record number of judicial appointments made by President Donald J. Trump, a pro-life Republican, it can be expected that abortionists will increasingly rely on the tactic of filing legal challenges to pro-life laws in state or county courts, especially in states controlled by abortion-supporting administrations.

So far, no date has been set on a hearing in Trust Women’s challenge of HB 2028, the Kansas Telemedicine Act. Should Judge Theis issue an injunction barring the state from enforcing the law, Trust Women will be free to advance their abortion marketing expansion plans that place women at risk.

“Trust Women has hand-picked this biased judge for a reason. They have stacked the deck in their favor. At this point, it will take a miracle for him to rule favorably toward the new law,” said Newman.

Adding to the high hurdles a defense of the Kansas Telemedicine Act will face is the outcome of the Governor’s election earlier this month. Kansans voted to replace a pro-life governor with Laura Kelly, a radical pro-abortion Democrat that will have the power to appoint like-minded people to serve on the Kansas Board of Healing Arts and the Department of Health and Environment. This will ensure that even if by some miracle the new law is upheld, there will be no will to enforce it in the new administration.

“Elections sometimes have dire consequences, and the people of Kansas did women and babies no favors in opting for an extremist pro-abortion governor. There can be no excuse for those who oppose abortion to ever cast a vote for a pro-abortion candidate. Those votes cost lives and endanger the safety of women,” said Newman. “Now, it will take years to undo the damage of corrupt judges and the outcome of that last gubernatorial election in Kansas. Tragically, the price for that will be paid in the blood of innocent babies and women killed and injured by abortion.”