Kansas Judge Rejects ACLU Lawsuit on Abortion, Obamacare

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 19, 2011   |   3:27PM   |   Topeka, KS

A Kansas judge has issued a decision recommending to higher federal courts that a request by the ACLU to stop a law that prevents state Obamacare health exchanges from funding abortions not be allowed.

The magistrate judge denied the ACLU request for a temporary injunction to halt the law. The state legislature approved, and pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback signed, a law that makes it so no state or federally administered health-insurance exchange in Kansas that is established under Obamacare can fund abortions at taxpayer expense. That has Kansas following several other states in exercising their right to opt out of abortion funding in the Obamacare law, which has numerous loopholes allowing it.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth Gale requested the injunction request saying the ACLU did not show sufficient reasons to explain how it or its members would be harmed by the law staying in place. “[T]hat the Act will impose “financial difficulties” on some members is not a conclusion to which the Court can subscribe without further support,” he wrote.

The ruling is a recommendation to U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, who makes the final decision on the injunction request. The Associated Press indicates the ACLU has until September 26 to respond and present a written rebuttal to Judge Brown.

Kansans for Life Executive Director Mary Kay Culp, said, “The private insurance portion of this law has been in effect in Missouri and other states for as long as 20 years and has survived court challenges.  Private business owners should be able to protect the conscience rights of their employees and not be forced to underwrite abortion on demand.  This law accomplishes that, yet still allows women to purchase elective abortion coverage–if desired.”

Kathy Ostrowski, the legislative director for Kansans for Life, a pro-life group, told LifeNews KFL is glad that Judge Gale recommended that the Motion for Preliminary Injunction by the that the Motion for Preliminary Injunction be denied.

“Dale held the hearing Friday and makes the recommendation to the 104- yr-old judge, Wesley Brown, who was technically assigned to this litigation,” she explained. “The showing of probable irreparable harm is the single most important issue in establishing the need for a judge to interpose an injunctive action to stop a law.”

“As stated at the hearing, the Court has serious concerns regarding the very general statements in the sworn declaration of Holly Weatherford, the Program Director for the ACLU (and past Planned Parenthood lobbyist in Kansas),” she said.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued and is upset that women seeking abortions would have to purchase a separate rider for their insurance policy that would cover abortions, so enrollees are not forced to pay for them.

“This law is part of a nationwide trend to take away insurance coverage for a legal medical procedure that is an important part of basic health care for women,” Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, said in a statement. “Many things can happen in a pregnancy that are beyond a woman’s control, so having insurance coverage for abortion ensures that every woman can get the health care she may need.”

When the law was approved, state legislators said it was critically needed.

“This bill includes very crucial pro-life language,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican, in a AP report. “I would view this as an important conscience protection for Kansas business owners.”

“The fundamental issue here is not — although I wish it were — the ability to further limit legal access to abortion, but rather who pays,” Kinzer said.

Kansas is facing two other lawsuits over new pro-life provisions, as two abortion practitioners have filed suit against a new law that has already resulted in temporarily closing one abortion center and may result in the closing of two others that may fail to meet the new health and safety standards.

The new law pro-life Gov. Sam Brownback signed requires abortion centers to meet the same basic health and safety standards as legitimate outpatient surgical centers such as, according to the bill, “having an emergency door that can accommodate a gurney … maintaining proper emergency equipment, drugs and protocols, having proper lighting and ventilation, lavatory areas, and spaces for the sterilization of surgical equipment. Clinics must also have a licensed nurse in the clinic when abortions are done.”

Meanwhile, Kansas is appealing a ruling a federal judge issued blocking a new law the Kansas state legislature approved that revokes taxpayer funding for the Planned Parenthood abortion business.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten issued an injunction preventing the state from enforcing the law after Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri argued that it would suffer irreparable harm if the law was allowed to stand and that it would be forced to close one or more of its facilities because Kansas would direct hundreds of thousands of taxpayer funds to non-abortion medical clinics that provide the same services without also destroying the lives of women and unborn children in abortions.