Right now, the state of Alaska is obligated to provide Medicaid funding for all “medically necessary” abortions. Yesterday the Senate passed a bill that would narrow that definition.

It’s the first time the Senate has passed an abortion bill since 2006. The legislation would only allow for Medicaid payments if a woman is at serious risk of physical harm if she goes through with her pregnancy or if the woman is a victim of rape or incest. It specifically excludes mental health conditions. Supporters of the legislation have characterized that as a loophole through which women can get Medicaid coverage for elective procedures.

Anti-abortion groups have gotten behind the bill, saying it would reduce the number of abortions in the state because low-income women are less likely to go through with the procedure if they can’t secure payment. Sen. John Coghill, a North Pole Republican, sponsored the bill, and he says that his intent was narrower than that.

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Senate passes controversial abortion bill



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