Kansas Bars Insurers From|Covering Abortions; ACLU Sues

     KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) – Kansas enacted an unconstitutional law that prohibits insurance companies from covering abortion under health insurance policies, the ACLU claims in Federal Court. The ACLU says the law bans coverage of abortions even if the fetus miscarries and “has no chance of ultimate survival.”
     “The act’s only purpose is to make it more difficult for women to obtain and pay for abortion care,” the complaint states.
     Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, signed House Bill 2075 into law on May 25.
     “The Act singles out one health care service – abortion – and prohibits insurance companies from offering comprehensive health insurance plans that include this service,” the complaint states.
     The only exception is an abortion that “is necessary to save the life of the mother.”
     “As a result of the Act, thousands of Kansas women, including some of plaintiff’s members, have lost or will soon lose their existing insurance coverage for abortion.”
     The ACLU claims, among other things, that the law discriminates against women. It also endangers women’s health: “The Act also bars coverage for the treatment of miscarriages. In many instances, a woman who is the process of miscarrying needs care to complete the termination of the pregnancy. If the fetus is still alive, the Act bars coverage for this care even if the fetus has no chance of ultimate survival.”
     The complaint states: “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.”
     It adds that “prior to the passage of the Act, a substantial percentage of Kansas women with health insurance had plans that covered abortions in circumstances such as those listed above. In fact, most women with employer-based insurance have abortion coverage.”
     And: “Kansas does not prohibit insurance companies from providing coverage – or require them to provide certain types of coverage in the form of a separate rider – for any other comparable health service, including any health care service needed by men.”
     The ACLU says the law is “part of a wave of restrictions on access to abortion enacted in Kansas in 2011,” which include “a licensing statute designed to shut down the three abortion clinics in the state; a law prohibiting Planned Parenthood from receiving federal family planning money because of the organization’s association with abortion; and a pre-viability ban on abortions after twenty weeks of pregnancy.”
     It wants the law enjoined as unconstitutional, in violation of the due process and equal protection sections of the 14th Amendment.
     “Insurance coverage, including coverage for abortion, allows women to get the health care they need,” the complaint states. “A woman may seek an abortion for a wide variety of reasons, including: she is not ready to parent; she believes that having another child will take away critical emotional and financial resources from the children she already has; she is the victim of domestic violence or rape; she aspires to finish her education or to get a better job that will help her family live a better life; her pregnancy has caused or exacerbated a serious health condition; her partner does not want a child; or the fetus she is carrying has a serious or fatal health condition.”
     Sandy Praeger, the Kansas Insurance Commissioner, is the only defendant.

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