Health commish responds to abortion reg concern

Alaska’s health commissioner says his department didn’t intend to restrict the definition of a medically necessary abortion in proposed regulations for abortion payment conditions.

Commissioner Bill Streur was responding to Sen. Hollis French, who said the agency is seeking to reinstate criteria overturned by the Alaska Supreme Court.

The court held the state must fund medically necessary abortions if it funds medically necessary services for others with financial needs.  A legal opinion requested by French said phrasing used in the proposal is narrower than current law, and “reasonably likely” to be found unconstitutional.

While French asked Streur withdraw the proposal, Streur said the department would determine, after reviewing all public comment, whether to make language changes.

Streur said a court would ultimately decide constitutionality if the adopted regulation were challenged.

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