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Sunday, November 14, 2021

Parnell Again Attempts to Restrict Women’s Choice

Governor Sean Parnell has once again attempted to chip away at the ease of accessibility to women’s health care in his state.  Parnell’s religious agenda, which has flown all but completely under the radar since he ran for Lt. Governor, has informed many of his policies as the man on the throne in Juneau.

Remember back in 2010, Parnell vetoed money that would have gone to Denali Kid Care (Alaska’s SCHIP program), providing medical services for poor children and pregnant women, because it also would have provided, by law, abortion services. He has already gone on record saying he’d rather deny a living, breathing child access to medical care than to allow any government money to maybe pay for medically necessary abortion – which is completely legal. So, it should not surprise us that a woman’s right to medical privacy when seeking an abortion could be next.

Now, it’s not just vetoing money that would expand funding that could potentially include abortion. Parnell is deliberately seeking to restrict a woman’s existing rights, and intervene his own agenda into a medical diagnosis and definition. A new regulation from the Department of Health and Social Services, which goes in to effect at the end of the month, unilaterally changes what the state considers a “medically necessary abortion.”

For the last 19 years, physicians have charted medical necessity in a patient’s medical record, and the State of Alaska has appropriately paid those claims. The new definition proposed by the Parnell administration will ignore years of court orders and precedent on the definition of medical necessity, and create its own terms.

“Alaska values transparent rule-making and proper public input, and this decision was made without any input from doctors or women who might be impacted,” said Clover Simon, Alaska Team Lead at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest. “Women in Alaska now have a chance to comment, and are flooding DHSS with their concerns that low-income women will not have the same access to reproductive health as all other Alaskan women.”

“This new regulation is designed only to impose burdens on physicians who provide abortions,” said Simon. “Politics does not play a part in any other medical professional’s decision-making, it should not play a part in women’s health, either. Restricting access to state funded abortion is blatant government overreach and an attempt to shame and demean a poor woman seeking her legal pregnancy options.

“In 2010 Parnell tried a similar tactic, attacking Denali Kid Care. Now it is 2012, women’s health once is again being used for political gain,” she said.

Of course, this attempt to restrict abortion access for low-income women is not an isolated event. In March of 2012, Representative Wes Keller (R-Wasilla) introduced a bill that sought to eliminate public funding for abortion in most cases. HB 363, which was never passed out of committee due to improper introduction, would have forbidden full disclosure of pregnancy options and referrals for abortions, in flagrant violation of requirements made by federal funding laws.

And yes… he’s the same Wes Keller who held up a proclamation honoring the Girl Scouts 100 year anniversary because he’d heard some kind of rumor on the internets that the Girl Scouts supported Planned Parenthood, or something… He wasn’t really sure, but it was enough to make him interrogate a college intern behind the lectern, who was there to put forward the bill.

In 1993, the state agreed with Planned Parenthood that a physician could use his or her professional judgment to determine if an abortion was medically necessary and could therefore be covered by Medicaid. The physician made a notation on a patient’s medical chart, and did not have to submit a separate, potentially searchable public document.

In 1970, Alaska was one of the first states to pass a bill legalizing abortion. That was three years before Roe v. Wade. And decisions from our State Supreme Court have consistently upheld a woman’s right to make reproductive health decisions without government intrusion, including abortion, as was demonstrated by the Alaska Supreme Court in 1997 and 2001.

Here is a timeline from Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest showing this trend since 1993.

Public Funding of Abortion in Alaska

1993      State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) attempted to implement regulations that threatened abortion funding for low income women. Planned Parenthood of Alaska challenged the regulation and was granted a temporary injunction.

1994      Planned Parenthood and DHSS entered a court ordered agreement stipulating that the department would cover medically necessary abortions according to the definition in AAC 47.290(8) ‘certified by a physician as medically necessary…to ameliorate a condition harmful to the woman’s physical or psychological health’.

1997      Alaska Legislature passed legislation limiting abortion funding to rape, incest or the life of the mother. Planned Parenthood of Alaska challenged the law.

1999      The Alaska Superior Court found the legislature’s decision not to fund abortion except in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother unconstitutional. The court clearly specified that medically necessary abortions must be covered.

2000      The State of Alaska DHSS continued not to pay for services provided to low income women and Planned Parenthood went back to court.

2001      The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that DHSS was required to pay for medically necessary abortions through Medicaid. *

2010      Governor Parnell vetoes increase in eligibility for Denali Kid Care – despite bipartisan support of increasing benefits to thousands of children and women – simply because Denali Kid Care also covers abortion.

2012      Representative Wes Keller and the House Health and Social Services Committee held a hearing on public funding of abortions. HB 363 was introduced as a committee bill, intending to restrict access for low income women seeking abortion services. HB 363 was pulled from the agenda due to improper introduction.

2012      Governor Parnell’s DHSS has introduced a rule that purports to expand billing instructions but is actually intended to reduce low-income women’s access to publicly funded abortion.

* Each year the legislature passes an amendment within the operating budget stating that no state funds will pay for abortion services. However, this is illegal because the state must provide for abortion services.

If you would like to comment on Sean Parnell’s latest maneuver, the DHSS is accepting public comment. Please submit your remarks to the Department of Health and Human Services by emailing:




7 Responses to “Parnell Again Attempts to Restrict Women’s Choice”
  1. David says:

    This is a CLASSIC example of GOP controlled states MANIA. They have spent countless hours, tax payer dollars in the GOP controlled legislatures and Governor’s mansions on all of these SETTLED non-issues that are the main objective of this new talibangelical movement by the far right. The MAJORITY of these new laws and regulations have been STRUCK DOWN by the US Supreme Court by both democratic and republican appointed judges.

    When are WE all going to stand TOGETHER despite our differences and push back? When is “enough” ENOUGH?

  2. Things are not what they seem people.... says:

    Boy isn’t he a ray of sunshine…what is the matter Parnell…cat coming out of the bag? lol…

  3. Polarbear says:

    What is the new definition?

  4. zyxomma says:

    I mentioned this in the War on Women thread in The Forum, but many of you don’t go there. Yesterday, I watched a movie the roomie taped, entitled Rain Without Thunder. In the film, the year is 2042. A journalist interviews a mother and daughter serving seven year sentences for “kidnapping” after boarding a plane for Stockholm to get an abortion for the daughter, a college student at the time she became pregnant; interviews are also conducted with relatives, the impregnator (the prosecution’s star witness), a priest, relatives, etc. It stars Jeff Daniels, Linda Hunt, and Betty Buckley, among others, all excellent in their roles.

    If you can find it, see this film! Roomie taped it from Station This, which is a broadcast station here in NYC. This is also available on many different cable networks. One thing I like about This is that they re-run movies frequently, so if you miss one broadcast, there probably will be another soon. I don’t know if Netflix has it, because one cannot search their database without signing up for membership, which I refuse to do (I have an excellent video store 3 blocks from home, a Blockbuster 6 blocks away, and a great selection available free at the New York Public Library).

    It’s a new twist on the dystopian-future-flick, and a good one.

  5. leenie17 says:

    Wow. Just wow.

    But there’s no GOP war on women. Really, truly!!!

    I just can’t decide which one’s worse – Parnell or Sullivan. Neither one has a heart, a brain or an ounce of humanity. My sympathies, Alaska, for having such coldhearted, theocratic, arrogant, narrow-minded, downright stoopid *$%)*^$s in positions of authority.

    On the bright side, things couldn’t get much worse with the next elections.

  6. Alaska Pi says:


    • Alaska Pi says:

      hmm- this new format has some interesting twists. left the “swearing” dropped the 3 lines of text promising to comment formally to HSS when I regain my composure .

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