Alaska Proposes Changes to Abortion Funding Process

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services released proposed changes to regulations of abortion services last week. The proposed changes modify the conditions that qualify an abortion procedure for federal reimbursement. The new language reads that a woman can be reimbursed if, “the mother is endangered by the pregnancy.”

The changes have raised alarm among pro-choice groups in Alaska. Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Clover Simon has expressed concern over the vague language of the law. Simon said to Alaska’s KTUU, “Best-case scenario: it doesn’t mean anything and women are able to access services as they always have. Worst-case scenario: it’s the first step in narrowing the definition.” Low income women are likely to be the most at risk in these changes.

Pro-choice advocates are also wary of a new separate form required for reimbursement. The form must be completed by the doctor, and includes the woman’s name. A separate form is not required for any other procedure reimbursement and may impede the woman’s reimbursement process. The Alaska Dispatch reports that in 2001, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the state “cannot selectively deny necessary care to eligible women merely because the threat to their health arises from pregnancy.”

The Department of Health and Social Services is accepting public input on the changes until July 30th. After the public comment period ends, the proposed law will be reviewed and then either approved or rejected by the Department of Law.

Sources: KTUU 7/2/2012; Alaska Dispatch 7/2/2012; RH Reality Check 7/3/2012

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