The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit Tuesday in an attempt to eliminate a recent Kansas law that prevents insurance companies from covering abortion services in regular plans.
The suit, ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri v. Praeger, is the first challenge to the anti-abortion laws that 13 states have passed since 2010.
The bill was passed by the state’s legislature in May, and requires that women purchase a separate rider plan with extra premiums if they want to obtain an abortion. The conservative rationale behind the law said that this way, those morally opposed to abortion would not subsidize other women’s terminations of pregnancy.
This bill came on top of other onerous restrictions on abortion that were signed by Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in April, including a ban on abortions past 20 weeks and a requirement that parents be informed about their children’s abortions and give consent.
The lawsuit addresses the insurance problem. Not all insurance companies will offer the riders, and opponents of the bill said that the legislation gives politicians too much of a hand in health care.
“Politicians should not interfere in what should remain a private medical decision,” Kari Ann Rinker, state coordinator for the Kansas chapter of the National Organization for Women, said in a press release. “For too long, my home state of Kansas has been the epicenter of an effort to erode a woman’s access to abortion. Enough is enough.”
Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director of pro-life group Kansans for Life, said that the
eastern part of Kansas had functioned with the law since 1983, when Missouri passed a similar law. (Kansas City rests on the Kansas-Missouri border.) She said that it had “functioned just fine.”
“They’re probably trying to exploit our liberal state Supreme Court,” Ostrowski told Raw when asked about the ACLU’s suit. “There are unfortunately too many zealots for a woman’s absolute right to abortion.”
Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said that it is important to reverse the “nationwide trend” of receding insurance coverage for abortion.
“Many things can happen in a pregnancy that are beyond a woman’s control, so having insurance coverage for abortion ensures that every woman can get the health care she may need,” she said.