ACLU amends complaint on abortion insurance

WICHITA — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed an amended complaint in its legal challenge to a new state law that restricts insurance coverage for Kansas women.

The document filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas makes a one-sentence addition to its complaint stating ACLU’s members include women who will seek to buy insurance policies on state-level exchanges established under the federal health care overhaul.

ACLU lawyer Brigitte Amiri called the addition “just a slight correction/clarification” to reflect those members.

Under the new Kansas law insurance companies are prohibited from offering abortion coverage as part of general health plans, except when a woman’s life is at risk. Patients who want abortion coverage must buy supplemental policies, known as riders, covering only abortion.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expressly authorized the states to prohibit abortion coverage in policies sold on the state exchanges that are slated to begin by 2014.

ACLU has already said in court that their lawsuit will challenge that provision in the federal health care overhaul allowing states to prohibit abortion coverage on the state exchanges, where individuals and small businesses would be able to choose from different health care plans and compare coverage options. The Kansas law has such a provision.

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

A federal judge last month rejected the ACLU’s request that the Kansas law be put on hold during the court fight. But the judge told the ACLU it could try again, noting his decision wasn’t a final ruling on the merits of the group’s claims. He also ordered an expedited schedule so the case would move more quickly through the courts.