Senate approves bill to ban abortion from insurance policies

TOPEKA — In their fourth major anti-abortion action of the current legislative session, the Senate has passed a bill that will require most women who want an abortion to pay for the full cost of the procedure themselves.

House Bill 2075 bars insurance companies from including abortion coverage in their regular health coverage plans. Under the bill’s provisions, general insurance plans could cover termination of pregnancy only in emergency situations to save the life of the mother.

Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, objected to the provision, saying that it had been added at the last minute in conference committee in violation of Senate rules, because it had not been approved by either chamber.

But Sen. Ty Masterson, R-Andover, argued that it could be added because the Senate had passed other measures dealing with insurance.

Senate Vice President John Vratil, R-Leawood, who was running the meeting, ruled the measure was out of order. But Masterson appealed to the full Senate and won that procedural vote 21-18, foreshadowing the bill’s final passage.

The full bill was approved by a vote of 28-10. It now moves to the House where it is expected to pass easily.

The bill does allow for insurers to sell separate “riders” on policies that cover abortions only.

But the National Women’s Law Center said such rider policies are not a viable option for women.

“Existing data shows that supplemental coverage for abortion is unworkable and does not provide a genuine option for coverage,” the center wrote in a issue paper. “Obtaining supplemental coverage for a specific procedure is impractical and undermines the purpose of health insurance.”

The bill was the fourth abortion restricting measure passed this year. Both houses earlier passed:

* a ban on virtually all abortions after 21 weeks of pregnancy, based on a disputed medical theory that fetuses of that age feel pain from the procedure.

* tougher licensing, inspection and reporting requirements for clinics and hospitals that allow abortions, combined with restrictions on the use of abortion-inducing drugs.

* requirements that minor girls seeking an abortion obtain permission from both parents or a court ruling before the procedure can be performed.