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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ACLU challenges Kansas abortion insurance law
Jaclyn Belczyk at 11:05 AM ET

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[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF; press release] Tuesday challenging a Kansas law [HB 2075 materials] that prohibits insurance companies from including coverage for abortion [JURIST news archive] in their comprehensive plans. The law prohibits comprehensive insurance plans from covering any abortion other than to save a woman's life but allows companies to offer a separate rider to cover abortions for an additional cost. The law will also ban coverage for abortion except in very limited instances in policies sold after 2014 under the new federal health care law. According to the ACLU complaint, the legislation violates the constitution:
The Act's only purpose is to make it more difficult for women to obtain and pay for abortion care. Indeed, it is akin to imposing an additional tax on the procedure. Moreover, because the Act serves no legitimate state interest, it fails even rational basis review. And, by prohibiting women from purchasing insurance that covers all of their health care needs while placing no similar restriction on men, it impermissibly discriminates based on sex.
Kansas is one of several states [Kansas City Star report] to enact similar legislation over the past two years. The measure took effect July 1.

Kansas has also recently imposed several other abortion restrictions. Last week, the state filed an appeal seeking to overturn a federal judge's ruling [JURIST reports] that blocks a law [HB 2014 materials] preventing Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri (PPKM) [advocacy website] from receiving federal funding. Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the District of Kansas [official website] issued a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] to block a regulation [SB 36 materials] requiring clinics within the state to obtain a license to perform abortions. In April, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R) [official website] signed two pieces of legislation [JURIST report] restricting abortions in the state. The Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act [HB 2035, PDF] requires unemancipated minors to obtain notarized parental signatures before an abortion may be performed, and the "fetal pain bill" [HB 2218, PDF] restricts abortions beyond 22 weeks of pregnancy based on the belief that a fetus can feel pain at that stage of gestation.




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