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Judge Refuses to Block Kansas Law Restricting Insurance Coverage for Abortions

Posted Sep 30, 2011 4:27 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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A federal judge refused Thursday to block enforcement of a new Kansas law restricting insurance coverage for abortions.

The law, which took effect July 1, prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of a general health plan, except when a woman's life is at risk, the Associated Press reports.

Under the law, patients who want an abortion must buy a supplemental policy known as a rider to get coverage or pay for the procedure out of their own pockets.

The American Civil Liberties Union had sued the state in August, claiming that the law's true intent was to impose an unconstitutional burden on abortion seekers, and had asked that the law be put on hold while the case was litigated. The ACLU also claimed the law was discriminatory because men can buy a general health plan for all of their reproductive needs.

U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown of Wichita denied the request, saying the plaintiffs had failed to prove their claim that legislators' real intent was to create obstacles for women seeking abortions. But he told the plaintiffs they could try again, noting that his decision wasn't a final ruling on the merits of their claim.

"The law appears to rationally further a state interest in allowing the state's citizens to avoid paying insurance premiums for services to which they have a moral objection," the judge wrote. "Whether the practical effect of the law is to actually create a substantial obstacle is another question" about which he is expressing no opinion at this time, he added.

Brown did order the case to proceed on an expedited schedule so the constitutionality of the law can be determined more quickly.

Updated on Oct. 3 to correct the spelling of Judge Brown's name.

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