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Planned Parenthood Sues State over New "Medically Necessary" Abortion Laws

By Matthew F Smith, Digital Producer, msmith@ktuu.com
Published On: Jan 29 2014 03:56:00 PM AKST

Planned Parenthood sues the state over abortion regulation.

ANCHORAGE -

Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the State of Alaska over new abortion laws set to go into effect Feb. 2.

The new regulations, approved by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell in early January, affect abortions covered by Medicaid.

In the past, doctors simply checked a box stating that an abortion was medically necessary to get the procedure paid for. The new law would require doctors to state first the abortion was medically necessary, and further, it requires them to identify the woman's specific medical issues in order to qualify the abortion as “medically necessary.”

The new form also allows doctors to choose other physical or psychiatric disorders not on the list, essentially a “none of the above” option.

"It's just a form asking for a little more information,” said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner William Streur.

“It's my feeling, my belief, that the Supreme Court decision allowed for and us to pay only for medically necessary abortions and we're trying to get a little more detail in why the treating physician thought it was medically necessary," Streur said.

Planned Parenthood says the new regulation would disproportionately prevent low-income women from getting abortions.

“The problem with this is that as we all know no woman and no pregnancy is exactly the same, so certainly a list of 22 conditions won't cover the myriad of circumstances that might impact a woman," said Jessica Cler, the public affairs manager for Northwest Planned Parenthood.

"That's why decisions like what isn't medically necessary should be determined by a doctor and a patient, not by a politician or a government official."

“Every Alaskan woman, regardless of income, should be able to make the pregnancy decision that’s best for her,” wrote Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, in a release on Wednesday.

“The Alaska Supreme Court has already ruled that women’s pregnancy decisions must be given equal protection under the law. Politicians and government officials in Juneau should not decide what is ‘medically necessary,’" she added.

The lawsuit aims to block the new regulation immediately until the constitutionality of the regulations can be settled in court.

KTUU's Samantha Angaiak contributed information to this story.