Wednesday, August 17, 2011

American Civil Liberties Union sues over ban on abortion insurance

New Kansas law that prohibits insurance companies from including abortion coverage in comprehensive health plans . This is filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan.

"This law is part of a nationwide trend to take away insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure that is an important part of basic health care for women," Brigitte Amiri, an attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said Tuesday in a statement. "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."

Claiming violations of a woman’s right to due process and equal protection under the law, the ACLU is seeking a declaration that the law is unconstitutional and an order blocking its enforcement.

Women who want abortion coverage would need to purchase a separate rider to their policy. Insurance companies would be prohibited from offering abortion coverage, even by a rider

Eighty-seven percent of employer-based insurance policies nationwide covered abortion as of January 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization. But Kansas lawmakers passed legislation in May that forces private insurance companies to remove abortion from the list of standard procedures they cover, except when the mother's life is at risk. 

The ACLU lawsuit said women seek abortions for a variety of reasons including rape, domestic abuse, overall health, unreadiness for parenthood, lack of income, or a partner who doesn't want a child.

The new law was passed after midnight on the last day of the legislative wrap-up session in May.

In 2008, only 12 percent of abortions were paid for with private insurance, according to the Guttmacher Institute. About two-thirds of women who had private insurance still paid out of pocket for their abortion procedures, which might have been because they hadn't met their deductibles or because they didn't want their employer or primary policy holder to find out about the abortion.

Since that debate, abortion-rights supporters have especially targeted Rep. Pete DeGraaf, R-Mulvane, who carried the bill on the House floor. During the debate, DeGraaf likened buying an abortion insurance rider to protect against catastrophic or unwanted pregnancy to carrying a spare tire in his car.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten in Kansas City, Kansas, on Aug. 1 granted Planned Parenthood an order blocking the defunding measure. The state is seeking reversal of the order at the U.S. appeals court in Denver.