Politics & Government

Senate OKs limits on abortion insurance

TOPEKA — Most women who want an abortion would be required to pay the full cost of the procedure themselves under a bill passed by the Senate late Thursday.

It is the fourth major action restricting abortion in this legislative session.

House Bill 2075 would bar 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 28-10. It now moves to the House, where it is expected to pass easily.

The bill allows 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."

Earlier in the session, both houses passed these restrictions on abortion:

* 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.