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KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) Fri, May 13 2011 - Kansas lawmakers early on Friday passed a bill prohibiting women from receiving general medical insurance coverage for abortions, except when the mother's life is at risk.

Women could buy a rider covering abortions, but at their own expense.

If the bill is signed by Republican Governor Sam Brownback, as expected, Kansas would join six other states in approving the insurance ban, said Elizabeth Nash, who tracks abortion legislation for the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion rights organization in Washington, D.C.

The other states are Missouri, North Dakota, Utah, Idaho, Kentucky and Oklahoma, Nash said.

The Kansas ban also extends to health insurance exchanges permitted under recent federal law. Eleven states ban abortion coverage under those exchanges, Nash said.

Supporters of the bill said it looks after the interests of employers opposed to having abortions covered by insurance they subsidize. Opponents such as Nash said abortion is an important medical procedure that should be covered like anything else.

Nash said relatively few women use insurance for abortions. A recent study showed only about 30 percent of women who had abortions were insured privately and only a third of those used it to cover the procedure, she said.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)

© 2010 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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