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ACLU Dealt Blow in Kansas Abortion Case

ACLU Dealt Blow in Kansas Abortion Case

A controversial law in Kansas that places restrictions on insurance coverage for elective abortions is still alive. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown refused to block the new law, saying opponents could not offer proof to their claim that the real intent of legislators was to make if more difficult for women who seek abortions.

The bill, passed by the Kansas legislature and signed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback this year, is one of a handful of new laws throughout the nation that limit how insurance companies can pay for abortions. Currently, eight states have laws that restrict insurance coverage of abortion, according to the pro-abortion group, NARAL.

Under the Kansas law, abortion coverage would be available only when the woman’s life is at risk. Otherwise, insurance companies could not offer abortion coverage as part of a general healthcare plan, unless the patient added what is known as a “rider,” or supplemental coverage.

“This bill is about the right of private business owners not to have to underwrite repeated abortions for their employees,” Kansans for Life executive director Mary Kay Culp told The Christian Post. “Notwithstanding the life of the unborn, we feel this bill is a fair balance to both the employer and insurance companies.”

Culp said approximately 40 percent of women seeking abortions in Kansas have had at least one prior abortion and that 160 abortions in the state last year were from women who have had five or more. Kansas’s abortion numbers for 2010 can be found here.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in August, asking the court to place a hold on the law by saying the true intent of the legislature was to place an undue and unconstitutional burden on women seeking the procedure.

“The state has no business depriving a woman of insurance for vital services that are already covered by most health plans,” Doug Bonney, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri told The Kansas City Star.

Brown rejected the lawsuit, stating in his opinion, “On its face, the act does nothing to directly prohibit or restrict a woman from obtaining an abortion. Whether the practical effect of the law is to create a substantial obstacle is another question, but plaintiff has not attempted in this motion to put on evidence to establish such an effect.”

Attorneys for the state argued that the ACLU failed to specifically cite the number of Kansas women who were members of the organization, how many were unable to purchase abortion policy riders or the status of the members and how they would be harmed.

In his ruling, Brown denied the request and said the ACLU didn’t prove that there was a “substantial obstacle to obtaining abortions.” However, he did tell the ACLU that his decision was not a final ruling and left the door open for the group to try again. The judge also ordered that the case be expedited so it could be heard sooner.

Brown, who was appointed to the bench by President Kennedy in 1962, is one of the oldest judges still serving at 104 years of age. While Brown did sign off on the decision, U.S. Magistrate Kenneth Gale, who made the final recommendation to Brown, heard the case.

The Christian Post attempted to contact the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri but did not receive a response prior to publication.


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