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Kansas Law Banning Private Insurance Coverage for Abortion Headed to Trial

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A federal judge denied a request to block the 2011 law, holding a trial was necessary to determine if forcing a woman to buy special insurance for abortion care violates Roe v. Wade.

The issue of whether or not a Kansas law restricting private health insurance from covering abortion violates the guarantees of Roe v. Wade is headed to trial.

U. S. District Judge Julie Robinson denied the request of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri to block the 2011 law because, ACLU argues, the primary purpose of the law was to construct barriers to safe, legal abortion care. The law prohibits private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortions in their general plans, except in cases when a woman’s life is in danger. Any Kansan who wants coverage for abortion care must instead obtain a rider on their insurance policy. According to reporting by the Associated Press, prior to the law’s passage approximately 70 percent of the insurance market share in Kansas included abortion coverage in comprehensive coverage.

Because abortion coverage was relatively routine prior to the enacting the law, Judge Robinson said a trial was necessary to answer this larger, looming question of whether the significant costs that women must now bear on their own to obtain an abortion create a substantial burden on their federal right to an abortion. “This increased cost to women seeking an abortion… creates a genuine issue of material fact concerning the existence of an impact on women seeking an abortion in Kansas,” Judge Robinson wrote.

A two-day trial is scheduled for March 18th in Topeka.

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