Bill defines 'medically necessary' abortions

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 11, 2013 at 6:01 pm •  Published: February 11, 2013

Coghill is part of the new Republican majority that took control of the Senate after November's legislative elections. He is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would hear the bill first. SB49 had at least six co-sponsors as of early Monday afternoon, including Sen. Donny Olson, D-Nome. Olson is a member of the majority caucus.

Information provided by the department shows during the last fiscal year, the state paid for 539 abortions, at a cost of about $191,000. In fiscal year 2011, it paid for 691 abortions, at a cost of nearly $245,000. In 2010, the state paid for 831 abortions, at a cost of about $290,000.

Medically necessary, as defined by the bill, states that it is a doctor's "objective and reasonable professional judgment" that an abortion must be performed to avoid threat of serious risk to the life or physical health of the woman. That could mean a serious risk of death or "impairment of a major bodily function" due to such things as renal disease that requires dialysis; congestive heart failure; coma; or "another debilitating physical condition."

French, D-Anchorage, called the proposal a "radical departure" from existing law.

"I think the chief danger is that you're interrupting what is now an extremely private matter between a woman and her doctor, sorting out an extremely difficult issue," he said.

Treasure Mackley, political and organizing director at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, called the proposal "dangerous for Alaskan women."

"In a state where we have some of the highest rates of rape and incest, Coghill would force women in the most vulnerable circumstances to navigate the legal system in order to obtain the medical care they need," Mackley said in a statement. "With the rate that assaults go unreported in our often small, tight-knit communities, this bill puts a foreboding burden on Alaskan women."


For more information on the bill: .


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