Archive for Friday, September 16, 2011

Judge questions Kan. limits to abortion coverage

September 16, 2011


— A judge hearing a challenge to a new Kansas law limiting insurance coverage for abortions questioned Friday whether the stated basis for the measure made sense or whether the law was merely meant to place an undue burden on women seeking the procedure.

Attorneys for the state told U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale that lawmakers were expressing "the conscience of its people" in passing the legislation because abortion opponent should not have to subsidize the procedure in a general health insurance plan. The law prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of their general health plans, except when a woman's life is at risk. Those who want abortion coverage would have to buy supplemental policies, known as riders, covering only abortion.

However, Gale pointed out that by law, insurance companies calculate rates on an actuarial basis, meaning all policyholders' money is pooled together. The result is that even those without a policy covering abortions could still end up subsidizing the procedure, he said.

"Why the coy disguises in a rider?" Gale sharply questioned the state's attorneys. "Why not just prohibit abortion?"

Attorney Stephen McAllister, who represents the state, responded that the state may very well be able to do just that. He said the state has a strong interest in protecting "potential life."

The American Civil Liberties Union questions the law's constitutionality and wants a temporary injunction putting the measure on hold until its legal challenge is resolved.

"Making abortions more difficult for the sake of making them more difficult is unconstitutional," ACLU attorney Brigitte Amiri contended.

Gale is expected to issue his findings this weekend, with the parties having seven days to file any challenges to those recommendations. The final decision on the injunction will be up to U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has extolled lawmakers to protect the unborn and establish a "culture of life." The ACLU argued in a court filing that the new insurance statute is but another example of laws passed this year that attempt to make it more difficult for women to get abortions.

Enforcement of two other new Kansas statutes — one dealing with restrictive abortion clinic regulations and another stripping federal funding from a Planned Parenthood chapter — have been blocked by federal judges ahead of trials to determine whether they're constitutional.

The judge questioned attorneys on whether they agreed that an insurance statute that created a burden on women's right to an abortion was OK as long is the burden isn't undue. But, he said, the purpose of the statue cannot be to create a burden on the right to an abortion.

McAllister replied that there is nothing in the legislative record stating that the purpose of passing the abortion insurance law was to create a burden on women.

Abortions in clinics can run from $450 early in pregnancy to as much as $1,500 as the pregnancy advances. Hospital-based abortions can cost thousands of dollars.

McAllister told the judge the statute was overwhelmingly passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by the governor.

"It expresses the wishes of the people of Kansas," McAllister said "That is entitled to some respect."

He argued that the potential monetary harm to women is not an irreparable injury that would justify an extreme remedy such as a temporary injunction.

The judge again asked: "If you are placing a substantial obstacle on the right to choose — if that is the case, don't we have irreparable harm?"

Gale also grilled attorneys for the ACLU, at one point telling them he was concerned about the quality of an affidavit they submitted to support their request for an injunction and rejecting their request to file more a extensive one.

The judge also expressed skepticism about the ACLU claim that the abortion insurance law violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment because Kansas women would not be able to buy comprehensive health care insurance for all of their medical needs but allows men to do so.

Other states have similar statutes prohibiting private health insurance companies from covering abortions unless coverage is obtained through an optional rider. Missouri's law has been in effect for more than 28 years, and Kentucky has had one in effect for 27 years. Oklahoma passed one four years ago.

But the ACLU's challenge to the constitutionality of the Kansas statute also has widespread implications to other states because it challenges a provision in the federal health care overhaul that authorized the states to prohibit abortion coverage in policies sold on the state exchanges. The ACLU sued Kansas because it was the first state whose law banning such coverage went into effect, Amiri said.

Besides Kansas, other states that elected to prohibit abortion coverage through the exchanges include Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.


JayhawkFan1985 6 years, 7 months ago

This is one more step in the right wing "cultural revolution" and is part of their "great leap backward." Vigilance is the price we all pay for living in a democracy. I already know some of you will point out we don't live in a democracy, but a republic is a form of representative democracy...

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

I think it is a great leap forward to begin to limit the "sexual revolution" consequence of using abortion as a method of birth control.

Kirk Larson 6 years, 7 months ago

More republican intrusion into our personal lives. Republicans have only two issues: their money and other peoples' sex lives.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

That is simply not correct Republicans want to reduce the size of government in our lives and only use the police power of the state where absolutely necessary. Here--in the issue of abortion--the use of limiting power is called upon because of the many abuses of women and children by the abortionists. Take the money out of abortion and see how many of these doctors remain in the field just to "help" women.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

"Take the money out of abortion and see how many of these doctors remain in the field just to "help" women."

Take the money out of any job or profession, and it'll probably cease to exist. What's your point?

ivalueamerica 6 years, 7 months ago

another bold faced lie by the false witness.

The limited government has no problems dictating insurance for women, health care practices, sexual activities from consenting adults, mandated legal discrimination in marriage, disenfranchising voters by making voting more difficult, writing medical procedure, regulating our right to participate in unions...

be honest, GOP is more than happy to regulate the hell out of us to create a religious state and pro big business anti poor anti immigrant country.

of course, you will one day have to answer to your God about your false witness and I imagine you will be quite surprised when he pushes the down button on your elevator.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

you are wrong there is no "false witness" but the truth and you seem unwilling to face it!

meggers 6 years, 7 months ago

No amount of money is worth the harassment and constant threats those doctors face from people who share your mindset.

Jimo 6 years, 7 months ago

Great. The Party of Death blabbering about a "culture of life"!!

neo_star 6 years, 7 months ago

"...were expressing the conscience of its people..." I think they really mean "religion of its people". However, I kind of remember something about a separation of Church and State from my high school civics class.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

What you remember is the establishment clause of the constitution. It restricts the government from interfering in religion--it does not restrict religious people and institutions--from having moral views on social issues. Christians are opposed to the dismemberment and destruction of the unborn and we will never accept this odious practice!

Kirk Larson 6 years, 7 months ago

The establishment clause restricts the government from propmoting (establishing) one religious view over another. While legislators may hold particular religious views, they may not unduly impose them on people.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

So long as abortion regulation is not based upon religion per se they are allowed as long as the comply with Supreme Court rulings allowing regulations that do not place an "undue restriction" upon a womans right to obtain an abortion. Parental consent, health and safety regs, and other regulations have been allowed by SCOTUS.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

But your religious views are the reason you oppose abortion, and the reason behind many legislators' opposition to it as well.

You even say it in your post "Christians are opposed..."

Armored_One 6 years, 7 months ago

If the cost of abortions is the issue, then it should actually be the preferred medical procedure, as opposed to births in hospitals, which normally cost several thousands of dollars.

Don't use an argument unless you are prepared to defend against the inverse of your stance.

woodscolt 6 years, 7 months ago

Murder probably would cost you a litte more than that unless you were willing to no sub contract it out and do it yourself. The prison side would be expensive for the tax payers to take care of you as well as court costs. However, if you are mistakenly referring to abortion, then if it is cheap, what's the state got to complain about. Case closed.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

If you watch the dismemberment of a child on video --a real abortion-- what some defend as merely "choice" I'm sure you will agree that if not murder it is at least the killing of a developing human being.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 7 months ago

It is a choice-- just not yours. Deal with it, and if you're so pro-life, maybe you should get one.

Armored_One 6 years, 7 months ago

So out of curiosity, how many children that have been born to mothers that didn't want the child in the first place have you adopted?

I mean, honestly, if the "life" is so important, what are you doing to directly nuture any of them, other than the ones you or your spouse have squirted out?

I'd also like some form of concrete proof if you say you are supported an unwanted child. I could claim to be half Russian and half Scottish. Without the proof, can you prove that claim to be true or false? Since the answer is no, I'll save you the time of answering with some meandering answer.

There's nothing like the whole "I don't like it so no one should be allowed to do it!" argument.

That ranks right up there with taking away the freedom of speech from people like Phelps, the KKK, and other extremists we have dealt with over the years. I'll gladly put my life on the line to protect someone else's freedoms, simply because it is the right thing to do.

It's called common decency, although these days, there is nothing common about it at all. You don't have to like, believe, or support anything you don't want to in this country, but at no point do you have the right to circumsize the rights of others based on those same likes and beliefs.

I've never once demanded that anyone has to like the things I say, but I have the legal right to say them. You have hte legal right to say the things you do. Your rights to do anything about it, however, ends at your lips.

Fred Phelps is utterly and completely convinced that his way of thinking is correct. Would you care to live in a world that laws passed on those beliefs existed? I'd like to think you wouldn't, but yet here you are, demanding that there be laws written based on your beliefs, not everyone's beliefs.

If Americans are to be equal in the eyes of the law, then that equality should extend both directions.

I know a great number of people that believe rapists should be castrated, at the very least.

Should that belief be the basis for a law?

If you are not comfortable passing a law that directly affects an individual's body, then why are you comfortable passing a law that affects only one part of society, namely the females?

A vasectomy prevents, at least in theory, a man from impregnating a woman. Should that medical procedure be banned as well?

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

The bottom line is that abortion is the brutal dismemberment of a human child and it has no moral virtue at all. We should be a society that places a high value upon human life and we should build upon that a true culture of life. Republicans and Democrats and others should unite to end the destruction of abortion on demand!

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

The bottom line is that abortion is a very complex issue, and that extremists on both sides exaggerate in order to maintain their extreme views, and because they're uncomfortable with ambiguity.

A developing fetus is not a separate human life, and yet it is not just part of a woman's body either - it's something in between, and changes over time during gestation.

Your rhetoric about being a society that values human life is just that, unless it's combined with actual policies that value human life once born - many (most?) of those in the "pro-life" camp seems to lose their concern for human life once a child has been born.

kansanjayhawk 6 years, 7 months ago

I think you are incorrect I believe that most pro-life people support positive policies and life affirming policies both before and after birth. Conservative approaches to both social issues and economics will benefit the entire community by affirming values that move society forward in a healthy way!

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