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Judge considers putting new abortion rules on pause

By KTVA Alaska 8:09 PM February 3, 2014

The legality of Alaska's new abortion regulations is now being argued in court.

ANCHORAGE - New abortion regulations redefining what constitutes a medically necessary took effect Sunday.

A restraining order that Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest is seeking, however, would put these new rules on pause.

The state is required to pay for abortions deemed medically necessary. The new rules define medically necessary abortions as those only resulting from rape, incest or those threatening a pregnant woman’s life.

Planned Parenthood called this definition narrow, restrictive and said it will strip away women’s constitutional rights.

“The denial of coverage will result in women who rely on Medicaid being unable to obtain medically necessary abortions,” said attorney Janet Crepps, representing Planned Parenthood.

The state said the new definition helps distinguish between elective and medically necessary abortions.

“We’re not raising the bar, we’re defining the framework upon which physicians can identify what constitutes a medically necessary abortion, something that has been the law of the state since 2001,” said attorney Stacie Kraly, representing the state.

Representatives from Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Reproductive Rights called into the hearing requesting a temporary restraining order take effect immediately to stop the new rules from taking effect now.

Judge John Suddock is presiding over this case. He told the courtroom Monday he would look into case law on this matter before deciding whether or not to grant Planned Parenthood’s request for a temporary restraining order. The attorney general’s office said they expect a decision from the judge Tuesday.

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