The following comes from a Jan. 8 story on It was authored by Joel Davidson and ran in the paper he edits, the Anchor of the archdiocese of Anchorage.

The state of Alaska has adopted a new regulation requiring abortion practitioners to give greater clarity on why they think an abortion is “medically necessary.” Pro-life advocates have expressed hope that the regulation will result in fewer state-funded abortions, while increasing the demand for pro-life alternatives.

Under existing federal law, the Hyde Amendment stipulates that federal dollars can only fund abortions in cases of rape, incest or to preserve the mother’s life. If none of those conditions apply abortion practitioners in Alaska have been able to simply claim that an abortion was “medically necessary” and have general funds from the state pay for abortions of low-income women on Medicaid. The new regulation, certified by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell on Jan. 3, will bring an end to this practice starting Feb. 2.

In 2001, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled the state was required to pay for abortions for Medicaid participants if those abortions were deemed “medically necessary.” In its ruling, however, the court left the door open for the state to legally define medical necessity.

With passage of the new regulation, abortion practitioners, rather than merely citing the term “medically necessary,” must instead submit a form that indicates one of 21 conditions defining what “medically necessary” means in each particular abortion they perform. According to the new regulation, the form must then be signed, dated and a copy submitted to the state Division of Health Care Services, while the original must be kept on file for the patient with all supporting documentation.

The regulation does not prohibit Alaskans from obtaining abortions but it does prohibit abortion practitioners from receiving state funded reimbursements for abortions that do not meet the legal definition of “medically necessary.”

With the change, abortion practitioners now need to affirm that the abortion was “to avoid a threat of serious risk to the physical health of the woman from continuation of her pregnancy due to the impairment of a major bodily function.” The new regulation also permits the state to fund abortions that are performed to avoid “another physical disorder, physical injury, physical illness, including a physical condition arising from the pregnancy, or a psychiatric disorder that places the woman in imminent danger of medical impairment of a major bodily function.”

….In a September interview with the Catholic Anchor Heidi Navarro, the center director at the Anchorage Community Pregnancy Center said she believes the term “medically necessary” is “very vague” and far too freely applied.

The Community Pregnancy Center averages about 500 pregnancy tests a year, while helping women explore pregnancy options. Most women who visit the center are not in need of a “medically necessary” abortion to save their life or preserve their bodily health, Navarro explained. Rather a woman finds herself in a difficult situation.

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