ACLU Challenges Recommendation in Suit Over Kan. Abortion Coverage Law

September 23, 2011 — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri on Thursday asked U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown to grant a preliminary injunction halting a new Kansas law that prohibits insurance companies from including abortion coverage in health plans, the AP/Houston Chronicle reports. ACLU urged Brown to reject a recommendation from U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale, who on Monday said the court should deny the group's request to stop the implementation of the law (Hegeman, AP/Houston Chronicle, 9/22).

The law permits insurers to offer stand-alone riders for abortion coverage. It also allows health plans to cover abortion care if the procedure is needed to save a woman's life. In addition, the law bans the sale of abortion coverage through health insurance exchanges that will be established under the federal health reform law (PL 111-148).

ACLU's lawsuit, filed in August in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., argues that the measure is unconstitutional and discriminates against women because similar insurance restrictions do not apply to men (Women's Health Policy Report, 8/17).

Gale presided over a hearing last week on ACLU's request and ruled that the group failed to prove that its members would be harmed by the law's enactment. He refused to allow ACLU to file a more extensive affidavit because it would be unfair to the state.

However, the affidavit at issue states that the group does have members who will lose or have already lost abortion coverage under the law, according to the AP/Chronicle. In addition, some members are unable to purchase riders because health plans have not made them available (AP/Houston Chronicle, 9/22).