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Is Alaska Trying to Sneak Through A Medicaid Mental Health Exception Ban?

Robin Marty

The state says its only ensuring that doctors verify Medicaid patients are following federal abortion payment rules.  But mental health seems to have suspiciously been left off as an acceptable reason for an abortion.

Anti-choice lawmakers have made no secret of their intention to strip away every health exception possible in their quest to ban abortions. So its not surprising that mental health exceptions are slowly being eliminated from the newest abortion ban proposals.

Alaska may be getting in on the act, too. The Alaska Department of Health plans to force doctors to fill out paper work confirming women who use Medicaid to pay for their abortions are adhering to the federal rules established by the Hyde Amendment, which only allows funding in cases of rape, incest, or a woman’s health. But when a doctor is given options to choose from on the form, “psychological health” is gone.

Via Anchorage Daily News:

A rule now on the books defines a medically necessary abortion as one that improves “a condition harmful to the woman’s physical or psychological health.” The proposed change says an abortion can be eligible for payment if “the health of the mother is endangered by the pregnancy.”

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The elimination of the reference to “psychological health” appears to be a significant change that could rule out abortion coverage for many women, said Clover Simon, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman.

“You have to be suspicious, because there have been so many attacks on a woman’s right to obtain an abortion, especially poor women, in Alaska. So we have to be extra vigilant,” she said.

rRead more here:

The group is probably right to be suspicious. Considering the ongoing effort by anti-choice legislators to redefine what constitutes a “medically necessary abortion,” as well as Governor Sean Parnell’s anti-choice zealotry, taking the state at its word that the bill is not changing the types of abortions that will be covered is quite a leap of faith.

The new regulations are open for public comment until July 30th.

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