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State Legislature passes abortion funding bill that critics say raises constitutional concerns

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JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill further defining what constitutes a medically necessary abortion for purposes of Medicaid funding.

The Senate on a 13-7 vote Monday agreed to the House version of the bill that removed language calling for expanded family planning services. That language was added in the Senate last year.

Supporters of the provision said greater access to services would reduce unplanned pregnancies and abortions. The bill's sponsor, Sen. John Coghill, said the state already provides women's health and family planning services.

The House passed the bill 23-17 on Sunday.

SB49 supporters say the state shouldn't have to pay for elective abortions. Critics say the bill raises constitutional questions.

The bill is similar to regulations adopted by the state health commissioner that are being challenged in court.

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