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Experts testify on abortion bill, criticized

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 27, 2013 at 8:36 pm •  Published: February 27, 2013

Coleman said she has authored over 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles, of which 37 dealt with the psychology of abortion. Coleman authored a study linking abortion to an increased risk of mental health problems that researchers, in a report published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research last year, said reached wrong conclusions. Coleman said she disagreed with that finding under questioning by Wielechowski, D-Anchorage.

Rutherford is a maternal and fetal medical specialist in Washington state. She said it's rare for an abortion to be required out of medical necessity and said she does not perform abortions. She recommended that kidney infection be taken off the list in SB49 of conditions that pose a serious risk to the woman, saying she's never seen one that would necessitate an abortion.

A Coghill aide, Chad Hutchison, said 623 abortions in Alaska were paid by Medicaid in 2011. He could not say whether any of those were not deemed medically necessary but pointed to a study that indicated a small percentage of abortions nationally were due to a physical problem.

Wielechowski asked who was in a better position to decide the issue of medical necessity: "a woman's physician or a bunch of politicians?" He said this is an issue dealing with constitutional rights. Coghill said the bill revolves around who pays for an abortion and is not a restriction on whether a woman can obtain an abortion.

Coghill, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Planned Parenthood would have a chance to present its case next week, and the public will also have a chance to comment. Two of the committee's five members have signed on to the bill as co-sponsors.

Jennifer Allen, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest, said much of the testimony given has been "discredited by major health care associations." The group pointed to Coleman's assertion that there is a preponderance of evidence suggesting abortion will exacerbate pre-existing mental health illness and a potential link to breast cancer.

"The bottom-line is Alaskans know that a woman should have accurate information about and equal access to all of her legal options," Allen said in a statement. Wednesday's "hand-picked testimony on Alaska women's health is simply intended to coerce, judge and shame a woman who seeks safe and legal abortion," she said.


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