June 19, 2012 — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a claim asking U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson to strike down a Kansas law that prohibits insurers from including abortion coverage in their general health plans, the AP/Topeka Capital-Journal reports. Insurers can opt to offer a rider for abortion coverage.
According to the filing, "The Act does nothing to inform a woman's choice; rather it obstructs it. It also does nothing to protect a woman's health; in fact, it endangers it. It does not reduce the cost of health insurance in any meaningful way. Nor does it have anything to do with ensuring that individuals are not forced to 'subsidize the cost' of another person's abortion or any of the other rationalizations Defendant has conjured up."
According to ACLU, the law -- signed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) last year -- forces some women to pay more than $10,000 for abortion care and does not significantly reduce insurance costs. Documents the group filed include depositions from insurance executives, data from the industry on the law's effects and questionnaires answered by state regulators.
In the claim, ACLU attorneys wrote, "One need only look at the effects of the Act -- hundreds or thousands of dollars foisted upon an individual seeking abortion care, versus a small amount saved on an individual's premium costs -- to conclude that the State's characterization of the Act as a tool for reducing insurance premiums is a sham rationale and pretext for the Act's evident purpose, which is to make it more difficult for women to afford abortion care."
Jeff Wagaman, deputy chief of staff for the Kansas attorney general's office, said that the state will file its own motion to uphold the law (Hegeman, AP/Topeka Capital-Journal, 6/15).
Repro Health Watch — an exciting new edition of the Women’s Health Policy Report — compiles and distributes media coverage of proposed and enacted state laws and ballot initiatives affecting women's access to comprehensive reproductive health care, as well as litigation in response to those provisions.