Reproductive Rights

Alaska Governor Signs Law Restricting Definition of Medically Necessary Abortions

Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell signed a bill last week limiting which abortions can be labeled medically necessary by a doctor and therefore covered by Medicaid under the federal Hyde Amendment. The original bill included provisions for family planning services, but the state House removed them.

via Shutterstock
via Shutterstock

SB 49 requires doctors to select a reason that the procedure is medically necessary from an approved list of 21 reasons. The list includes threat to the life or physical health of a patient, but does not include anything about mental health. Anchorage Senator Hollis French expects the bill to be placed on hold in the courts “because it’s contrary to our Constitution.”

“SB 49 is a blatant attempt to put politicians between low-income women and access to abortion, and by removing the Medicaid Women’s Health Program, the legislature has made it clear that their only interest is restricting women’s pregnancy decisions–not promoting women’s health or reducing unintended pregnancies,” said Jessica Cler, Alaska Public Affairs Manager for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, in a statement.

“There shouldn’t be a list at all,” Erik House, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest told RH Reality Check. “It’s up to women and their doctors to make these personal medical decisions–not an arbitrary list drafted by politicians and bureaucrats in Juneau.”

Media Resources: Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest 4/14/14; Alaska Dispatch 4/14/14; RH Reality Check 4/18/14; LegiScan

Support eh ERA banner