January 23, 2013 — The American Civil Liberties Union on Friday dropped its legal challenge to a Kansas law restricting abortion coverage in private health plans, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 1/19).
The law prohibits abortion coverage in general private health plans, except when a woman's life is in danger, and requires employers or consumers who want abortion coverage to buy separate riders.
In June, the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri filed a claim asking U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson to strike down the law. The group argued that lawmakers' primary purpose in passing the bill was to impede access to abortion and that many women cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for the procedure, meaning that they have to delay the procedure until later in pregnancy -- when it is more risky -- while they save up money. On Jan. 7, Robinson ruled that there was no evidence to support ACLU of KSWMO's argument that the Legislature's primary motivation was to hinder access to abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 1/8).
A trial had been scheduled for March to address the underlying issue of whether requiring a woman to cover the full cost of an abortion infringes on her federal right to the procedure. However, ACLU and the state agreed to a joint stipulation of dismissal, which effectively ends the case and bars the group from reviving it.
Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer for ACLU, said on Friday, "We are disappointed that the court's decision will stand, despite the fact that the American public believes that politicians have no place interfering with a woman's personal and private medical decisions." She added, "Although we are not able to continue with this case, we will continue to stand up for a woman's right to make the best choice for herself and her family" (AP/New York Times, 1/19).
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.