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Planned Parenthood testifies on abortion bill

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm •  Published: March 4, 2013

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A bill that would cut state funding for abortions in cases which are not "medically necessary" is unconstitutional and unnecessary, a lawyer for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest testified Monday.

Laura Einstein, the group's chief legal counsel, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the bill is unnecessary because the Alaska Supreme Court has already defined when an abortion is medically necessary.

She said that the Medicare rules also contain a definition of "medically necessary" used by "virtually all services covered under Medicaid."

Einstein said the bill is unconstitutional because it would subject abortions that are funded by the state to much more stringent parameters than other procedures covered under Medicaid — which the Alaska Supreme Court affirmed in 2001, according to Einstein.

"To us, it seems obvious that the only possible justification is to limit women's access to abortions, and that's not permitted by the Alaskan Constitution," she said.

SB49, by Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, states that the Department of Health and Social Services may not pay for abortion services unless those abortions are medically necessary or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

The bill would bar the state from paying for "elective" abortions.

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