September 9, 2019
The ACLU of Alaska Wednesday filed suit against the state challenging restrictions on second trimester abortions. Planned Parenthood Votes of the Great Northwest and Hawaii and the Center for Reproductive Rights joined ACLU as plaintiffs.Listen NowJoshua Decker, ACLU Alaska executive director, said three ’70s-era restrictions are obstacles to women’s reproductive health, because they ban second trimester abortions in out-patient clinics and force some women to seek abortions out of state.“The reason we are doing this is because abortion is incredibly important,” Decker said. “One out of every three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. The number one reason in terms of women’s ability to fully and equally participate in lives of Americans in terms of economic prospects, in terms of jobs, in terms of education. It is the ability to decide by themselves and in consultation with their physicians, when and if to have a pregnancy be carried to term, when and if to have a child, when and if to become a parent.”(Editors note: Decker’s claim cannot be verified because it is based on a 2008 Guttmacher Institute study. The institute noted that the rate of abortion in the U.S. has dropped since the original study was published. New numbers will be available next year.) The restrictions require Alaska abortion providers to get a second opinion, to have blood and plasma supplies on hand at the clinic, and to have an operating room immediately available.Tara Rich, legal and policy director for ACLU Alaska, says the suit challenges the constitutionality of the restrictions under Alaska Constitution provisions for privacy, equal protection and due process.“So the Alaska Supreme Court is a much stronger test than the federal constitution,” Rich said. “Which is that an infringement on a women’s right to abortion cannot present an undue burden to that woman’s right. So we are challenging these regulations under the Alaska Constitution, not the federal constitution.”Jessica Cler, public relations manager for Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii, said Planned Parenthood sends about 30 women a year out of state to its clinics in Idaho and Washington state for second trimester abortions.State Department of Health and Social Services public information officer Rebecca Lynch said the department is not issuing a statement on the legal challenge at this time.ACLU Alaska joined with ACLU in Missouri and North Carolina in filing lawsuits against abortion restrictions in those states on Wednesday.