Federal judge refuses to block Kansas abortion insurance law

Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:59pm EDT

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(Reuters) - A federal judge in Wichita, Kansas refused on Thursday to block a controversial new state law that restricts insurance coverage for abortions.

The law, which took effect in July, bans insurance companies from covering the procedure under their general medical insurance plans, except when the mother's life is at risk, and requires women interested in having the costs of elective abortions covered to buy separate policies.

In August, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the Kansas law on constitutional grounds -- and asked the judge hearing the case, U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, to temporarily block the law while the case is argued.

But Brown rejected the ACLU's request, saying the group had "failed to show that the Kansas legislature's predominant motive in enacting this particular law was to create a substantial obstacle to abortion."

Separately on Thursday, the ACLU and other groups filed a lawsuit in federal court on Thursday challenging a new North Carolina law that requires women to be shown an ultrasound image of the fetus before getting an abortion.

The "Women's Right To Know Act" also imposes a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion and requires abortion providers to describe the fetus to women prior to the procedure.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher in Chicago; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

(This story corrects the judge's name in the fourth paragraph)

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