Topeka Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by Atty. Gen. Phill Kline against state-financed abortions for Medicaid recipients, saying money spent on the litigation could be better used for health care in Kansas.
The dismissal motion was filed Wednesday in Shawnee County District Court, where Kline filed the lawsuit in August. The attorney general will have a chance to file his reply to the request made to Judge David Bruns on behalf of the governor's office and state health agencies.
The lawsuit said continued expenditure of state funds as reimbursement for "elective pregnancy termination" is unlawful because the use of state funds involves the state in the destruction of lives "without due process of law."
Kline is an anti-abortion Republican; Sebelius is a Democrat who supports abortion rights.
Matt All, the governor's legal counsel, said federal law requires states to pay for abortions of Medicaid recipients in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother. Medicaid provides health care for the poor and disabled.
Kline and abortion
- Recent stories on Kline and abortion:
- Sebelius seeks to dismiss abortion suit (10-20-05)
- Child-sex investigation takes turn (10-19-05)
- Kline: Judge must see women's names (09-16-05)
- Records case raises privacy concerns (09-14-05)
- Kline probe goes beyond abortions (09-09-05)
- Abortion opponents dispute claims about patient privacy (09-08-05)
- On the Street: When do you think human life begins? (08-19-05)
- Kline sues Sebelius to end state-funded abortion (08-19-05)
- Kline's clinic probe linked to abortion foe (04-18-05)
- Kline's motives under fire nationally (03-24-05)
- Court lifts abortion gag order; Kline irate (03-11-05)
- Kline finds home in spotlight (03-06-05)
- A.G. releases information despite gag order (03-04-05)
- A.G. wants to search abortion records (02-25-05)
- Kline dismisses abortion lawyer (08-29-04)
- Kline issues funds to pregnancy clinics (07-01-04)
- Kline seeks abortion clinic regulations (04-29-04)
- More on the abortion controversy in Kansas »
"If we fail to do this, one of the consequences would be the state would have to pull out of the Medicaid program," All said. "We are following the law as Congress dictates to us and are just trying to be good stewards of state dollars."
The motion said the lawsuit "has no legal basis, but merely reflects the intent of a small majority of one chamber of the Kansas Legislature to violate federal law."
Kline has said the lawsuit was filed in response to a 2002 House resolution seeking a court order barring the state from spending state funds for the procedure.
"If the governor wants us to dismiss the suit she should ask the House of Representatives to rescind the resolution," Kline said in a statement. "If the governor desires to pursue that course of action, we will agree to a delay in the court proceeding to give her time to address the House of Representatives."
The governor's legal counsel noted the Legislature doesn't convene until Jan. 9.
"The attorney general appears to be confused. We did not ask him to dismiss the case. We asked the court to, because it violates federal law and jeopardizes the entire Medicaid program in Kansas," All said.
The state's Medicaid budget is about $2.2 billion, of which about 60 percent is federal money. When the lawsuit was filed, Medicaid officials said that during the previous 10 months, the state paid $1,908 for seven abortions needed by Medicaid recipients.
"The Kansas Constitution is the only basis plaintiff advances to challenge that reimbursement. No matter how the Kansas Constitution is interpreted, it cannot withstand the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution," the motion said. "Accordingly, the plaintiff's petition should be dismissed, and the time, money and resources wasted on this litigation should be saved to better improve health care of all Kansans."
The motion also noted the lawsuit asked the court to declare the Kansas Constitution's use of the term "men" to include "all male and female human beings at any stage of development" where it states "all men are possessed of equal and inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Sebelius asked the court to reject that argument.
"These are serious questions of constitutional, medical, moral, ethic and philosophical significance that should not be taken up lightly - and should not be taken up at all where, as here, their resolution has no bearing on the outcome of the case," the motion said.
Rep. Lance Kinzer, an attorney hired by the attorney general's office to handle the civil lawsuit, has said trying to expand the definition of "men" isn't an attempt to set the stage for court battle to stop legal abortions.
"The basis of the lawsuit is the notion that there is protection for all men to have the right of life. For unborn babies to be included in that protection, they have to fall within the definition of men. The question is whether babies from conception have those rights to life under the Kansas Constitution," Kinzer, R-Olathe, said when the lawsuit was filed.