The law SB 49 that requires doctors to decide whether the abortus is being ‘medically necessary and can be funded by Medicaid is still in pending. Read on for more.
Restrictions on Medical Abortion Rights in Alaska
Alaskan Gov. Sean Parnell proposed and signed a new law SB 49 that was supposed to limit the circumstances under which doctors can deem an abortion ‘medically necessary.’
The federal Hyde Amendment proposed a list of 21 reasons that have been ‘approved’ to be used in a so-called objective and reasonable professional judgment. According to authorities, this law was created to reduce severe risks to the life or the mother’s physical health, and reduce the risk of eclampsia, pulmonary hypertension, or epilepsy. Another ‘catch-all’ provision states that an abortion can be performed if the patient shows any signs of the physical disorder, including bodily injury, or life-threatening condition that can hurt the pregnancy.
However, the interesting fact about this law is that there are no provisions about the mental health of the patient, and the influence it has on the person’s decision to be ‘forced’ to this procedure.
Erik House, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood, stated that we should be aware of the fact that there shouldn’t be a list at all. This decision is entirely up to women and their physicians, not an arbitrary list created by bureaucrats in Juneau.
The whole issue with the funding of medically necessary abortions started in 2001 when the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the state is obligated to pay for medically necessary abortions since it is taking care of other procedures that are deemed to be medically necessary. This decision includes women with severe disorders such as bipolar disorder and epilepsy, meaning that since they are taking their forgoing medication — the termination of the pregnancy could be the best solution. If women decide to continue with the pregnancy, they could face issues with the funding of their medication, so ultimately will have to choose between endangering their own health without their prescription or endangering the fetus.
Erik House proposed the bill to the Senate in which he proposed establishing a women’s health program that would have a state-funded family planning service, health screening examinations, and related services’ to ensure that such legislation cannot jeopardize women’s right to funded health service, no matter their health-related choices.
Unfortunately, the house stripped this proposition before it was signed.
House added that the proposal of the bill SB 49 reaffirmed the attention of the government to put the politicians come in between women and their doctors, violating the base of human rights. He stated that not only is this bill unfair, harmful for women with lower incomes, but it is also unconstitutional.
A few months later, the Alaska state court temporarily blocked this bill, but proposed somewhat similar regulations that include almost identical terms — doctors are still obliged to decide whether the abortion is medically necessary, without including the women’s right to choose or taking any consideration of further psychiatric implications.
Brigitte Amiri, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, stated that the politicians are starting a dangerous game with these regulations. She further explained that a woman shouldn’t have to choose between paying her health bill and protecting her own health, as well as the health of her child.
She added that the reality is apparent — a woman in the state of Alaska is cornered with this legislature, and eventually will end up with the worse health care simply because she is poor and unhealthy.
The state of Alaska is facing serious obstacles, and citizens keep expressing their concerns and frustration since the same issue with the funding of the medical health keeps happening every year.
Renee Gayhart, the director of the Alaska Division of Health Care Services, stated that they are doing their best to move money around every year, but ultimately fail to manage it successfully.
She added that besides the women’s reproductive health issues, they have problems with the funding of nursing homes and behavioral health providers.
Gayhart explains that the root of these funding issues is that the departments at the Health Care Services fail to understand that they are running out of money every year and that the communication with legislators needs to be improved since these courses of actions are seriously hurting fundamental human rights in the state of Alaska.
The latest update on the subject happened in June when the legislators suggested the introduction of the ‘Life at Conception Act’ that bans legal abortion and ignores all the issues mentioned above. This bill recognizes the abortion as the murder subject or felony/assault/homicide charges, and it is in pending.
Until it is passed and enacted, the abortion remains legal in the state of Alaska.