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State House Vote on Abortion Funding Bill Delayed to Sunday

Published On: Apr 10 2014 07:58:45 PM AKDT   Updated On: Apr 10 2014 08:03:16 PM AKDT
State House Vote on Abortion Funding Bill Delayed to Sunday

An Alaska House vote on a bill which would restrict Medicaid abortion funding, originally set to occur Thursday night, has been moved to Sunday.

The measure, introduced last year by Sen. John Coghill (R-North Pole), bars Medicaid payments for “medically unnecessary” abortions. A specific exception is included for pregnancies resulting from incest, as well as a list of 22 medical conditions -- including renal disease, coma, epilepsy and sickle cell anemia among others -- which could permit funding of an abortion.

Thursday’s move is the latest involving moves by state officials to limit government funding for abortions. The state Department of Health and Social Services proposed regulations in August which would largely limit Medicaid funding to “medically necessary” abortions.

Planned Parenthood subsequently sued to block the DHSS regulations in state Superior Court, where Judge John Suddock sided with the group and barred enforcement of the abortion rules. In February, Suddock extended his order into April.

Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) proposed an amendment to Coghill’s bill Thursday that would have allowed the state to join a Family Planning Program federal matching grant. The grant in Tarr’s amendment, which failed on a 22-18 vote, would have expanded the Medicaid poverty threshold to allow women access to cheap, affordable contraception and pregnancy planning.

Should Coghill’s bill pass the House, it would head to Gov. Sean Parnell's desk for his signature.

Channel 2's Chris Klint contributed information to this story.