|By Lisa Demer, Anchorage Daily News|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The bill seeks to define in law a "medically necessary" abortion. Under the measure, the state
Proponents say the state should not pay for elective abortions and that Senate Bill 49 will ensure that is the case. The measure doesn't stop payments for abortions if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the mother's life is in danger.
But opponents said the list of medical conditions was too restrictive and will limit choices for poor women.
"This bill has nothing to do with restricting a women's right to an abortion," she said.
Responding to Democrats who noted that other medical procedures aren't signaled out in state law for detailed descriptions of necessity, LeDoux said there isn't a problem with other health services being covered when they are unnecessary.
The bill says an abortion is "medically necessary" if the pregnancy poses "serious risk to the life or physical health of a woman." Besides the risk of death, the measure says a serious risk would be a complication that could impair a major bodily function and lists 21 specific conditions and one blanket provision referring to other physical disorders or injuries.
The measure makes no explicit provision for covering abortions in cases of psychiatric illness or emotional crisis and some opponents said the absence of a mental health provision will be damaging to women and may not hold up in court.
Among the physical conditions that would qualify an abortion as eligible for state payment under the bill are a coma, epilepsy, seizures, heart failure and diabetes with severe organ damage. But others are less known, such as "amniotic fluid embolus" and "status epilepticus."
"I am kind of uncomfortable telling a doctor this is the exact right list," she said.
House Democrats last week tried to add a new
Those backing that proposal had argued that it would reduce unintended pregnancies, abortions and even the number of babies born damaged from their mother's drinking.
"It is an anti-abortion bill that now serves to increase the number of abortions," state Rep.
Last year, the state
LeDoux argued then the state already pays for ample family planning services including at public clinics.
"Other than putting contraceptives in the drinking water, I mean we've done just about everything we can do as far as family planning services," LeDoux said during Thursday's debate.
Now the stripped-down abortion bill must return to the
Voting for the bill Sunday were these Republicans: LeDoux,
Opposition came from both parties including Democrats Tarr, Gara,
The Parnell administration last year approved regulations defining medical necessity for abortion with a list of conditions similar to those in the bill.
Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest sued in January to have the new rules struck down as violations of constitutional rights, including the right to privacy. An
Democrats said Sunday that if the measure becomes law, it certainly will be challenged in court at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the state.
Last year, the
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