Topeka, Kan. – A controversial proposal in Kansas to restrict private health insurance for abortions has passed and is expected to be signed into law by Governor Brownback. The measure prohibits insurance companies from automatically covering abortions in their health plans, except to save a woman’s life. Individuals and employers wanting the coverage would have to buy separate abortion-only policies.

Some legal analysts say the measure could be challenged.

“This Kansas legislation has to be examined for unconstitutional gender discrimination in violation of the equal protection clause,” explains legal analyst Dan Monnat. “The Kansas legislature has singled out a medical procedure that only a woman can need and then cut off access to it based solely on emotional, religious and political considerations.”

Lawmakers who voted in the bill call it a fair measure.

“We also succeeded in passing legislation (HB 2075) that will, among many other amendments to the Insurance Code, provide for optional insurance coverage through riders for certain abortions, if an individual feels compelled to acquire such coverage,” explains Republican Dennis Hedke of Wichita. “Pro-life advocates were also likely pleased to learn that state monies will no longer be expended to provide insurance coverage to state employees seeking an abortion, unless the procedure is necessary to protect the life of the mother.”

Kansans for Life, a group that is strongly opposed to abortions, is calling this a big win.

“And [sic] abortion is not health care, so I’m glad that they just took that out of there,” says David Gittrich of Kansans For Life. “If you want a rider for abortion you can still get it, but for the vast majority of Kansans who don’t want to pay for abortions, and don’t want it as part of their health insurance, now they can have that taken out of there.”

The House approved the measure 86-30 on Friday morning, sending it to Governor Sam Brownback. The Senate passed it Thursday night, 28-10. House members’ action came only hours after they had blocked its passage. The House voted 70-51 early Friday morning against the measure, but it later reconsidered and launched another debate.

The anti-abortion language is bundled with other insurance regulatory changes in a single bill. House members initially objected, not over the abortion language, but over other insurance proposals.

Governor Brownback is expected to sign it into law.

See video at KSN

KSN TV – Craig Andres