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Reporting Requirement Removed From Alaska Bill on Medicaid Abortion Coverage

Reporting Requirement Removed From Alaska Bill on Medicaid Abortion Coverage

February 20, 2013 — A revised version of a bill (SB 49) that would further restrict when Medicaid can cover abortions was introduced in the Alaska Senate on Friday, omitting a provision that would have required women to "promptly" report rape and incest to authorities in order to qualify for the coverage, the AP/Juneau Empire reports.

The bill, introduced by Senate Majority Leader John Coghill (R), aims to clarify the definition of medically necessary abortions, which the Alaska Supreme Court has said the state must fund as long as it funds other medically necessary procedures.

In a news release on Friday, Coghill said he intended for the measure to adhere to language in the federal Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds from being used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman's life is in danger. He added that after learning that his language diverged from the amendment, he immediately filed a sponsor substitute for the bill.

Reaction to Revision

The revisions did not mollify abortion-rights groups and Democrats who had criticized the reporting requirement.

Treasure Mackley, political and organizing director for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said in a statement, "Though the removal of the insensitive requirements for victims of sexual assault is one step forward, the fact of the matter is this bill still places politicians between women and their doctors." The measure will "eliminate pregnancy options and compromise low-income women's health and well-being," Mackley added (Bohrer, AP/Juneau Empire, 2/17).