Kline won’t appeal judge’s dismissal of abortion lawsuit

? Kansas Atty. Gen. Phill Kline today said he wouldn’t appeal a judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit that sought to end state-funded abortions for Medicaid recipients.

Kline said he filed the lawsuit to comply with a resolution approved by the state House in 2002.

“I do not plan to appeal the recent ruling unless directed to do so by a subsequent resolution passed by either chamber of the legislature,” Kline said in a short statement released to the media.

On Tuesday, Shawnee County District Judge David Bruns ruled Kline had no valid legal claim to sue Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and administration officials over the issue. Kline had argued that Medicaid-funded abortions violated the state constitution.

Medicaid is the federal- and state-funded program that provides health care to low-income Kansans.

Bruns noted that federal law requires states participating in the Medicaid program to allow abortion in cases of rape and incest or when the mother’s life is in danger. The judge said because the state participates in Medicaid, it must follow federal law, which trumps the state constitution.

“To the extent that the federal government has ‘occupied the field,’ all of the branches of state government are required to yield to the laws and regulations of the United States of America,” Bruns wrote in his 24-page opinion. “This is true even in cases in which the majority of citizens in a state may disagree with the action taken by the federal government.”

In the lawsuit, Kline’s office alleged the expenditure of state funds to end pregnancies violated the Kansas Constitution’s protection of “inalienable natural rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The suit also sought to have the court determine that life starts at fertilization when “a new, unique and genetically distinct human being is formed, distinct from its host while dependent upon her.”

The state is allowed to pay for abortions in instances of rape, incest or the life of the woman is endangered.

When the suit was filed in August, state officials said the state had allocated $1,907 for seven of these abortions over the previous 11 months. In the year before that, it was $999 for three abortions.

Sebelius’ office had argued that a Kline victory in the matter could threaten the Medicaid program in Kansas, which provides health care for about 260,000 Kansans.