For women in Kansas, accessing abortion care is going to become even more difficult. That’s because the American Civil Liberties Union dropped its legal challenge to a Kansas law restricting private health insurance coverage for abortions.
The law prohibits private insurance companies from offering coverage for abortions in their general health insurance plans except for cases when a woman’s life is in danger. Women in Kansas who want abortion coverage must instead buy additional, supplemental coverage. The ACLU had challenged the law, arguing that the Legislature’s predominant motivation in passing the law was to interfere with a woman’s right to chose abortion. The case was set to go to trial in March but on January 7th a federal court ruled that the ACLU had, as a matter of law, failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their claims.
“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 to press in response to the filing. “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.”
This means that, at least in Kansas, the issue of whether restrictions that force women to bear the significant costs of an abortion out-of-pocket create an undue burden on abortion rights are constitutional will not be decided by the court. Instead, the issue has been effectively, settled with the restrictions standing and the ACLU unable to raise the claim the insurance ban is unconstitutional or appealing the judge’s earlier ruling again. It’s a disappointing turn of events in a state where access to reproductive health care is becoming increasingly challenging and questionable.