The Alaska State House narrowly passed a bill that would put limits on state Medicaid payments for abortion.
The bill defines the term “medically necessary,” so it only covers physical harm – not psychological harm. Doctors would need to choose from a list of conditions like epilepsy and sickle cell anemia before the state covers the cost of the procedure.
Advocates for the bill, like Anchorage Republican Gabrielle LeDoux, said the point was to keep the state from paying for elective abortions.
“We’ve got the right to travel, but it doesn’t mean the government buys us a ticket to Paris,” said LeDoux. “We’ve got the right to bear arms, but the government doesn’t buy us a Sturm Ruger.”
Critics of the bill believe it will make it harder for low-income women to have access to abortion. Rep. Geran Tarr, an Anchorage Democrat, also suggested that the bill will not save money, because the law will inevitably end up in court.
“Litigation will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, just as it has in the past,” said Tarr.
Final vote on abortion bill delayed after divisive amendment process
Abortion bill advances on tight vote
Family planning services axed from abortion bill
Court temporarily suspends restrictions on Medicaid-funded abortions
Planned Parenthood tries to block abortion regulation
The Department of Health and Social Services introduced similar abortion regulations last year, but a judge put a stay on them after a lawsuit was filed on the grounds that the regulations violate the Equal Protection Clause.
The bill ultimately passed 23-17, splitting mostly on party lines. Republicans Lindsey Holmes of Anchorage, Paul Seaton of Homer, and Alan Austerman of Kodiak broke with their party and voted no.
The bill passed the Senate last year, with a provision establishing a women’s health program. Because the House stripped that program, the bill will have to be sent back to the Senate for concurrence.
- The flag flies on public buildings and is often waved at sporting events, but it has not been a symbol the French personally embrace. That has changed dramatically in the wake of the Nov. 13 attacks.
- Studies recommended relocating villages like Newtok, Kivalina and Shishmaref. But more than 10 years later they are still there, with waves getting higher and storms getting stronger.
- New research suggests Pacific halibut may adapt favorably to increased ocean temperatures. Greenland halibut may not be so lucky.
- “So what we’re seeing here is a giant step — a beautiful step — backward in time, where we’re remembering that there is no us versus them. There’s only us, and we are the people, and the people are the police."