Bill Defines ‘Medically Necessary’ Abortions

Medically necessary abortions would be defined as those needed to avoid serious risk to the life of the woman under a bill introduced in the Alaska Senate.

The measure, from Senate Majority Leader John Coghill, says the state health department may not pay for abortion services unless they 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.

The Alaska Supreme Court has held that the state must fund medically necessary abortions if it funds other procedures deemed medically necessary for people in need. A legislative legal opinion last year, however, said it’s not clear what makes an abortion medically necessary, and that it’s likely only further litigation will provide greater clarity.

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