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Posts Tagged ‘Judge Julie A. Robinson’

abortion not health care (2) The Associated Press reported late Friday that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) has withdrawn their failing lawsuit against a 2011 Kansas law which bars private health care insurance from covering elective abortions. The ACLU cannot file these claims again or appeal the earlier court rulings.

Under the law– like the court-approved law operating in Missouri and (de facto) in eastern Kansas for over two decades– abortions other than to save the mother’s life would not be covered unless individuals had separately  purchased “riders”. The law was sought as a “conscience” protection by

  1. employers who did not want to be forced to offer policies with abortion coverage, and
  2. employees who objected to having their health care dollars pooled into plans that paid out for abortions.

The plaintiffs were women (primarily two former Kansas abortion lobbyists) claiming they lost their abortion coverage under the new law and that it showed gender discrimination.  It was rough going for the ACLU side from the start: they did not merit an injunction, a variety of their legal claims were advanced and then scrapped, and they were told more than once that their claims “lacked evidence.”

On Jan. 7, 2013, federal Judge Julie Robinson soundly rejected the ACLU motion for a bench ruling instead of a trial, responding that, as a matter of law, the ACLU failed to provide any evidence that the Legislature’s predominant motivation in passing the law was to make it more difficult to get abortions.

Judge Robinson wrote, “Whether one agrees or disagrees with [the State’s] asserted cost and/or “freedom of conscience” rationale, there is nothing in the record to show that this was not the legislature’s purpose in adopting the law. Moreover, the claimed interests are rational ones.”

Abortion supporters –who sued three of Kansas’ 2011 pro-life measures– are fond of complaining that too much money has been spent by the state on defense litigation. They argue that these pro-life laws were only sued because they are “wrong,” but in this case, the court has recognized that it was the ACLU wasting taxpayer money.

Abortion is always the taking of an innocent human life; and the upholding of  this law, which stops society from “normalizing” and mainstreaming abortion as health care, is a victory.

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judge julie robinson

Judge Robinson

It’s not news that a lawsuit weighing the validity of the Kansas pro-life insurance law has been headed for trial in March 2013, but new filings that could have precluded a trial were answered by federal court Judge Julie A.Robinson on Monday.

The law bars private health care insurance from covering abortion except those done to save the mother’s life — a law that seven other states have, some (including our neighbor Missouri) for decades. Under the law, those wishing abortion coverage could purchase individual, separate policy ‘riders’.

The Kansas law was passed in 2011, with the impetus being employers’ and employees’ conscience objections to including abortions as part of health care packages.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit on behalf of several women who “lost” abortion coverage they previously had. That legal complaint has been amended several times but has not prevented the law from going into effect.

In June, the ACLU filed for summary judgment, asking that the judge rule on the legal arguments without going to trial, claiming that the legislature’s predominant purpose in passing the law was simply to impede access to abortion. The ACLU tried to fortify their arguments by citing the high cost of abortion, the animus of the legislature and the difficulty in navigating the purchase of riders.

In July, the State’s attorneys argued against that claim that the law had no rational basis and offered their own reason why the law could be upheld from the bench, without a trial. Attorneys for Kansas have stated at least four state interests served by the law:

  1. promoting childbirth over abortion;
  2. protecting the consciences of Kansans;
  3. lowering insurance costs; and
  4. making the public more aware of the actual cost of abortion.

On Monday, Judge Robinson roundly denied the ACLU’s arguments, and supported the state’s rebuttal of it, quoting her own earlier ruling, “Whether one agrees or disagrees with this asserted cost and/or “freedom of conscience” rationale, there is nothing in the record to show that this was not the legislature’s purpose in adopting the law. Moreover, the claimed interests are rational ones.”

However, while supporting the State’s rebuttal Judge Robinson did not allow Kansas attorneys their wish to also have her settle the matter without trial. She still wants to explore the issue of “undue burden,” and writes, “the Supreme Court held that showing that a statute will operate as a substantial obstacle in a large fraction of the cases in which it is relevant is sufficient, albeit not necessary, to show that the statute creates an undue burden.”

Trial submissions indicate that 137 women used insurance (not self-insured plans) to pay for elective abortion in Kansas in a one-year time frame from July 2010- July 2011. During that time, approximately 7,800 Kansas abortions were performed, so the State asserts the law does not impede a large fraction of the relevant cases. Robinson writes, “Absent more evidence, it is difficult to determine whether this burden is an undue one for a large fraction of these women,” and thus the trial is still scheduled for March.

Sadly, the question of the “burden” borne by those 137 aborted children is not up for discussion.

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