Federal judge refuses to block Kansas abortion insurance law

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[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Kansas [official website] denied an injunction [opinion, PDF] on Thursday against 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. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] initially filed the suit challenging the law [JURIST report] last month. The ACLU argued that the law was invalid because its sole purpose was to make it more difficult for women to obtain abortion care. In explaining his reasoning, Judge Wesley Brown stated:

Where a law can be viewed as having a rational purpose other than simply obstructing the right to abortion, the court cannot presume that an invalid purpose actually motivated the legislature to adopt the law, let alone that the invalid purpose was the legislature’s predominant motive.

Because of the denial of the injunction, the law will remain in effect while the litigation proceeds.

Kansas has recently imposed several other abortion restrictions. Last month, 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. In July 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.

Read more detail on JURIST – Paper Chase

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