• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
1m 53s

Alaska lawmakers pass abortion funding bill

By Alexis Fernandez 4:09 PM April 14, 2014
JUNEAU –

The Alaska Legislature has passed a controversial bill defining what constitutes a medically necessary abortion for purposes of Medicaid reimbursement.

On Monday, the Senate voted 13-7 to pass the measure, and on Sunday the House passed it 23-17. The House version removed an amendment for the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, which would have expanded family services.

Under the new measure, the state Medicaid program can only cover abortions that pose a serious risk to the life or physical health of a woman, and must fall under new criteria of 21 specific conditions.

Jessica Cler, with Planned Parenthood in Anchorage, says this bill is unconstitutional and hurts one group of women.

“Unfortunately the list is so restrictive that it’s tandem to a ban on abortion funding for low-income women that won’t be able to get the services that they need because of both the regulation and this bill,” Cler said.

Right now, in order to qualify for a medically necessary abortion under Medicaid, a doctor must sign off.

Last year, Gov. Sean Parnell approved new regulations similar to those in this bill.

The rules were supposed to go into effect last month, but Planned Parenthood sued and it’s now on hold awaiting trial.

“There shouldn’t be a list in the first place, politicians shouldn’t be making lists telling doctors how to treat what is best for their patients. Medical professionals should be able to determine what is the best care for their patients,” Cler said.

According to the Alaska Deptartment of Health and Social Services, in 2013 Medicaid paid for 513 of the 1,450 abortions performed in Alaska.

Supporters of the bill say the state should not pay for elective abortions, and this helps clarify who’s eligible.

Alaska Family Action released a statement saying:

“This bill will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are not wasted by paying for abortions that have no medical purpose whatsoever,” said Jim Minnery, president of AFA.

While lawmakers say the new rules are here to stay, Planned Parenthood says their fight is far from over.

We talked to Sen. John Coghill, a Republican from North Pole and the sponsor of SB49.

Coghill says this bill provides clarification for doctors, as the federal government left it up to states to decide what constitutes medically necessary.

Latest Stories

  • DayBreak

    Workforce Wednesday: Water treatment facility operator

    by Daybreak Staff on May 25, 12:23

    Anchorage has some of the best drinking water in the country. We use more than 25 million gallons per day. Water Treatment Facility Operators are in charge of filtering, disinfecting and putting fluoride in the water before sending it into a thousand miles of piping to your tap. Wednesday, Mike Kukowski, a foreman with Anchorage […]

  • Lifestyle

    Deadline approaching for annual Denali park road lottery

    by Associated Press on May 25, 10:41

    The deadline for entering the annual Denali National Park and Preserve road lottery is approaching. People can enter online and by phone through Tuesday for a chance to be able to drive their personal vehicle along the park road after the summer tourist season ends. During the summer, shuttle buses are the main mode of […]

  • Sports

    Anchorage couple ready for water, elements and 12.5 mile swim

    by Dave Goldman on May 25, 8:40

    A Florida vacation with sandy beaches and warm, tropical water sounds good, doesn’t it? It’s been calling Corrie and Greg Martin — they’re answering, but how they’re heeding the call may differ from how you might. The Anchorage husband and wife team heads for Key West, one of the most relaxed places on the planet for […]

  • Crime

    Anchorage police, crime trends predict hundreds of bicycles will be stolen this summer

    by Daniella Rivera on May 25, 0:08

    Bicycle shops in Anchorage say they think bike thefts are on the rise, and the people stealing them are bolder than ever. Police say the season of bike thefts is just beginning, and hundreds more are likely to be reported before summer ends. One man took off on a bike from The Bicycle Shop over […]

  • News

    Combating heroin on the Kenai: The Soldotna survivor

    by Sierra Starks on May 24, 23:50

    Tammi Charlesworth passes by the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center on her drive to work six days a week. The 35-year-old spent about two years there, serving time on a forgery charge. “I stole from my dad,” said Charlesworth. “And he turned me in, hoping to save my life.” Prior to her time at Hiland, she […]

  • News

    More than 200 service members to participate in 2016 Combat Fishing Tournament

    by Joe Vigil on May 24, 23:45

    It is not always easy to be the new kid on the block, which is why a lot of people are pitching in to put on the annual Combat Fishing Tournament in Seward on Thursday. This year, more than 200 newly-enlisted service members from around Alaska are taking part in the military appreciation fishing event. […]

  • News

    Cold climate house cuts costs in the Arctic

    by Heather Hintze on May 24, 22:53

    Driving around Anaktuvuk Pass, you’ll notice a home that’s a little out of the ordinary. The beige home looks like it came out of the Flintstones cartoon but has Jetsons’ technology. “The exterior of the house is a spray-applied membrane. It’s a Rhino liner, so it’s the same liner used in trucks. It’s really durable, […]

  • News

    Anchorage doctor accused of overprescribing painkillers to patients

    by Shannon Ballard on May 24, 22:45

    An Anchorage doctor has been accused by the Alaska State Medical Board of overprescribing painkillers to his patients. “Dr. Mahmood Ahmad, M.D., poses a clear and immediate danger to the public health and safety if he continues to practice medicine,” the board said when they suspended Ahmad’s medical license earlier this month. The investigation into Ahmad […]