From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage –
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said today that 664 abortions were funded last year through Denali KidCare.
Gov. Sean Parnell recently vetoed money to expand Denali KidCare, the health care program for low income kids and pregnant women, because some of the money funds abortions. Parnell said at the time that the program funded “hundreds” of abortions. Anchorage Democratic Sen. Bettye Davis had disputed that, saying a “very small number” of abortions are funded.
Women on Denali KidCare can have an abortion funded if a physician decides it's "medically necessary." The state doesn't define what is "medically necessary," leaving that to be determined by the treating physician.The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that "if the state undertakes to fund medically necessary services for poor Alaskans, it may not exclude from that program women who medically require abortions."
The health department said that $384,000 out of Denali KidCare’s $217 million budget, or 0.18 percent, went to pay for “abortion related services.” That covers everything from sonograms to counseling. The same number of women who received “abortion related services” through Denali KidCare last year went ahead and had abortions, the health department said today.
There were 55,754 Alaskans enrolled in Denali KidCare last year, including 7,947 pregnant women.
The $3 million Parnell vetoed would have allowed an estimated 1,300 more children and 218 more pregnant women to be on Denali KidCare.
It would have expanded eligibility of the program to cover households with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level, a threshold that's about $55,150 for a family of four.