ONTD Political

Kansas Abortion Law Challenge Dropped By ACLU

8:05 pm - 01/19/2013
WICHITA, Kan. -- The American Civil Liberties Union ended its legal challenge Friday to a Kansas law restricting private health insurance coverage for abortions.

A court filing shows the parties have agreed to dismiss all remaining claims, with each side bearing its own costs and attorneys' fees.

The agreement follows a federal judge's Jan. 7 ruling that, as a matter of law, the ACLU failed to provide any evidence that the Legislature's predominant motivation in passing the 2011 law was to make it more difficult to get abortions.

The Kansas law prohibits private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortions in their general plans except for when a woman's life is in danger. Kansas residents or employers who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders.

"We are disappointed that the court's decision will stand, despite the fact that the American public believes that politicians have no place interfering with a woman's personal and private medical decisions," ACLU attorney Brigitte Amri said. "A woman should have the peace of mind of knowing that her insurance will cover her medical needs no matter what happens during her pregnancy.

"Although we are not able to continue with this case, we will continue to stand up for a woman's right to make the best choice for herself and her family."

The Kansas attorney general's office did not immediately return a phone message and email seeking comment on the court filing.

The case had been scheduled for trial in March to determine the larger question of whether the significant costs for abortions many women must now pay for themselves create a substantial burden on the federal right to an abortion. The joint stipulation of dismissal – which prohibits the ACLU from raising the claims again or appealing the judge's earlier ruling – effectively ends the case.

Women seeking an abortion in Kansas need to buy the insurance rider or pay for the procedure out-of-pocket if their insurance policies are new or were renewed after the law took effect in July 2011.

Before the law's passage, companies comprising 70 percent of the insurance market share in Kansas included abortion coverage in comprehensive policies, the judge noted. Between July 2010 and July 2011, the three major health insurers paid claims for 137 abortions.

The cost for an abortion at a clinic ranges from $450 to $1,675, and hospital abortions can cost upwards of $10,000.

The law was among several major anti-abortion initiatives approved by Kansas legislators and signed into law by Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who called on lawmakers to create "a culture of life" after he took office in January 2011. Supporters of the insurance restrictions contended that people who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to pay for such coverage in a general health plan.

By Roxana Hegeman. 01/18/13 08:04 PM ET EST

leftbase 20th-Jan-2013 04:54 am (UTC)
...the ACLU failed to provide any evidence that the Legislature's predominant motivation in passing the 2011 law was to make it more difficult to get abortions.

Predominant motivation? I'm pretty sure it was their only motivation.
moonshaz 20th-Jan-2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
I know. This really sucks.
ragnor144 20th-Jan-2013 01:24 pm (UTC)
I don't know how anyone could effectively argue otherwise.
maladaptive 20th-Jan-2013 05:19 pm (UTC)
That's kinda what I was thinking. So they don't want insurance plans to cover abortion... but that won't make it harder to get one--

oic, it's because the "motivation" is people don't want to pay for it, who cares if the side-effect is that women can't get an abortion! That's just an unintended but delightful bonus. It's not the primary motivation.
perthro 20th-Jan-2013 05:37 am (UTC)
This decision didn't *happen* to be made by a bunch of white guys, did it?
yesthatnagia 20th-Jan-2013 02:53 pm (UTC)
I am literally just full of HATE right now. Fuck Kansas. Fuck anti-choice crazies. Fuck everything.
tabaqui 20th-Jan-2013 03:57 pm (UTC)
WTF, ACLU. Thanks for dropping the ball big time. What garbage. Right, okay, you were facing a bunch of jackass haters, i get it, but still. FUCK. My morning is becoming one of rage.
sarahsayssoo 20th-Jan-2013 06:54 pm (UTC)
bad case law in one state would negatively affect the fight everywhere else. ACLU dropped it because they didn't want to further hurt their chances on other cases
tabaqui 20th-Jan-2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
I know, i just.... I'm so sick of women being jerked around and pushed down and *fucked over*.

intrikate88 20th-Jan-2013 05:37 pm (UTC)
The cost for an abortion at a clinic ranges from $450 to $1,675, and hospital abortions can cost upwards of $10,000.

Jesus, for that cost you might as well pop out the baby and leave it at the hospital for the foster system to pick it up. (I know that's a callous thing to say. It's a callous response to a callous world.)

I don't get how it was ruled that a giant financial disincentive was not a barrier to abortion. I mean, I'm sad the ACLU dropped the case, but I'm even more angry at the court that disregarded evidence that didn't support its foregone conclusion. I don't see how the ACLU could have done anything further if all the support for their argument was going to be disregarded anyway. But I'm not a legal scholar and don't know how these things proceed from there if you happen to get a judge who does not give a shit for making a balanced and fair decision based on supported arguments.
dawn9476 20th-Jan-2013 10:00 pm (UTC)
Kansas is a state where are they are not only forcing women to give birth to severely disabled children, they are cutting the funding that it takes families to raise those children.

Edited at 2013-01-20 10:02 pm (UTC)
metatrix 21st-Jan-2013 01:15 am (UTC)
I don't understand why the ACLU went with the argument that they did. I think they would have been more successful if they have tried to argue that the government was overstepping into private enterprise by trying to limit the products that a private corporation (the insurance company) is allowed to sell. They could argue that this kind of over-regulation sets a poor precedent not just for interference in the insurance industry (i.e. the government mandating exactly what services a plan must/must not cover), but for all private businesses, thereby further eroding the so-called 'free market'. Over-regulation like in this case is a threat to the rights and liberties for the business owner (insurance company), shareholders, *and* the consumers (employer and employee).

Or something like that. I don't know anything about law, but that's the angle I would take if I were arguing this particular issue.
carmy_w 23rd-Jan-2013 07:08 pm (UTC)
As a Kansas resident, this sucks six ways to Sunday.

In addition, I think this says much more about the stance of judges in Kansas than it does about the quality of the evidence provided by the ACLU.

We will have trouble of this type for the better part of a decade, and that's if and after the voting population suddenly has a massive personality change and decides to swing left. Which may happen (oh, PLEASE let it happen!!), but will probably take a decade in and of itself....
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