The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri filed a lawsuit challenging a Kansas law that prohibits insurance companies from including coverage for abortion in their comprehensive plans. Since 2010, 13 states have enacted laws that prohibit some or all insurance policies from covering abortion care. This lawsuit is the first challenging one of these laws.
The law contains two prohibitions. First, it prohibits comprehensive insurance plans from covering any abortion other than one to save a woman’s life. This part of the law does permit companies to offer a separate rider to cover non-lifesaving abortions for an additional cost. Some insurance companies have indicated that they will not offer such riders to some or all of their customers, leaving women to pay out of pocket for a service that was previously covered by insurance.
Second, the law bans coverage for abortion except in very limited instances in policies sold in a newly created insurance marketplace, or exchange that will begin operating in 2014 under the Affordable Care Act. The law does not permit riders for these plans.
Kansas has been the epicenter of an effort to erode women’s access to health care. The state legislature has recently voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood, institute licensing restrictions that would shut down the state’s three abortion clinics and effectively prevent private insurance companies from covering abortion.
The case is being filed by the ACLU and ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri.