JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A revised version of a bill that would define "medically necessary" abortions was introduced in the Alaska Senate on Friday, removing a reference to having cases of rape or incest "promptly reported" to authorities.
SB49, from Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, pertains to which abortions Alaska must pay for under the state Medicaid program. The initial version called for the Department of Health and Social Services to not pay for abortion services under the program unless those abortions are medically necessary or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest and the rape or incest was "promptly reported" to law enforcement or public health authorities.
Coghill, in a news release Friday, said he intended for the bill to follow the language in the Hyde amendment, which bans all federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the woman is at risk. When he realized it did not, he said he filed a sponsor substitute for the bill.
Some Democratic lawmakers and Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest had blasted the reporting requirement as dangerous for women in a state with high rates of sexual assaults.
"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," said Treasure Mackley, political and organizing director at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. "Restricting access to state-funded abortion is blatant government overreach and would restrict our fundamental right to privacy and equality protected by the Alaska Constitution."
Mackley, in a statement, said the bill "remains dangerous for Alaskan women because the result will be to eliminate pregnancy options and compromise low-income women's health and well-being."