KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Judge Orders Trial On Kan. Law Restricting Insurance Coverage For Abortions

A federal judge turned down the ACLU's request to summarily invalidate the measure, but said the issues must be adjudicated at trial.

The Associated Press: Judge Orders Trial In Kan. Abortion Insurance Case
Kansas' law that restricts private health insurance coverage for abortions will go to trial to resolve whether it poses a substantial obstacle to women seeking to end pregnancies, a federal judge ruled Monday. U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson rejected an argument by the American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas and Western Missouri that the 2011 law should be summarily invalidated because the Legislature's predominant purpose in passing the act was to impede access to abortion. Instead, Robinson sided with the state in finding that the ACLU failed to provide any evidence about lawmakers' motivation. But, the judge said, a trial is necessary to determine the larger question of whether the significant costs for abortions many women must now pay for themselves create a substantial burden on the federal right to an abortion (Hegman, 1/7).

Meanwhile, in other state news on the issue of abortion --

The Associated Press: Texas: New Women's Health Program Can Meet Demand
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has signed up more than enough doctors to treat the poor women who depended on Planned Parenthood for family planning services and check-ups, the commissioner said Monday. Planned Parenthood's family planning programs for poor women was cut from the state program after Texas decided to eliminate funding to groups that support abortion rights starting Jan. 1. Commissioner Kyle Janek said Monday that his staff surveyed newly recruited doctors and clinics in the Texas Women's Health Program and found that they can pick up Planned Parenthood's caseload. "This gives us great confidence that we can continue to provide women with family planning and preventive care and fully comply with state law," Janek said (Tomlinson, 1/7).

NPR: New Regulations Could Treat Virginia Abortion Clinics Like Hospitals
This month marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the famed and widely cited case that legalized abortion. Yet across the country, states are continuing to approve restrictions. With little fanfare, Virginia and Michigan Republican governors recently signed new abortion bills into law. Virginia's Bob McDonnell, in particular, quietly approved clinic regulations adopted by the state's Board of Health three months ago that hold abortion clinics to the same building standards as hospitals (Lohr, 1/7).

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