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Kansas City's council meeting. File Photo.

Kansas City to reimburse expenses for employees seeking abortions

Kansas City, Mo., employees will be reimbursed for traveling outside Missouri for an abortion under a resolution passed by the city council on Thursday.

Women would be reimbursed only for the travel for the procedure through the city’s insurance provider. Women would not get reimbursed for the procedure itself. The final version of the ordinance does not have a set dollar amount.

“Right now, if you need a special surgery if you have some sort of challenge if you need to go to the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston or the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, in our plans right now, we find a way for you to get there,” Mayor Quinton Lucas told Fox 4 News.

READ: Kansas City named #1 city in world to work and play

The closest abortion provider is Planned Parenthood in Overland Park, but travel for an abortion could become more expensive after August 2, when Kansans vote on the Value Them Both amendment, which could put the abortion issue back in the hands of state lawmakers as opposed to currently being protected by the state constitution.

Lucas’ resolution comes just days after Missouri became the first state to ban the procedure following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“This is making sure that no matter what happened last week, no matter what happens in Kansas next month, that one of our employees will always have access to lifesaving care and reproductive care that they had just one week ago,” Lucas said.

The only two council members who did not support it were Northland council members Heather Hall and Dan Fowler. Fowler said he could foresee also paying travel expenses for something other than abortion, such as cancer. “I thought it would have been much more beneficial for the committee process to be used to bring that out so everybody had a fuller understanding of what we were really trying to do,” he said.

Lucas said he is not worried about privacy concerns, because the conversation would be through a woman’s healthcare and insurance providers, not her boss. Because it will be negotiated through the city’s insurance provider, it also doesn’t go into effect until after the next open enrollment period.

Meanwhile, in Overland Park, protestors gathered last weekend to chant “vote no” to passing cars, referring to the state Value Them Both constitutional amendment on the Aug. 2 primary ballot. The Kansas amendment would remove the right to abortion from the state constitution which legal experts say the Kansas Supreme Court wrongly added in 2019. It would return to the state legislature the ability to pass legislation that regulates health requirements of abortion facilitis and ban partial-birth abortion.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice